The university announced the hire of Jennifer Kandt as the program’s new coach Tuesday, taking the spot vacated by Jenny Hayes.
Kandt, who served one season as the coach at Virginia Intermont College, posted a 12-18 record in her only season with the Lady Cobras. Kandt’s position was eliminated last week following the Bristol, Va., college’s shuttering of its athletic department.
Kandt said she is excited to take of the reins of Reinhardt’s program.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” she said. “I am on campus now, and I’m even more excited now that I’m actually here and getting started. I’m pretty pumped about it.”
Reinhardt athletic director Bill Popp said in a release that Kandt has a wealth of volleyball knowledge and a familiarity with the Appalachian Athletic Conference, in which Reinhardt also competes.
“She has experience as a head coach in the Appalachian Athletic Conference, and she has a true passion for the sport,” Popp said. “We’re grateful to Jenny Hayes for the work she did with our program, and I’m certain that Jennifer will have no problem taking over the reins and continuing to build the winning tradition that we’ve established.”
While Kandt said it’s always nice to have good facilities, what really excited her about coaching at Reinhardt were the players already in place.
“What’s most important wherever you go are the staff and players,” she said. “Once I got to know coach Popp, I had an automatic excitement feeling. It just felt right. I got to meet the girls and they just felt like such a great family. I’m excited to be a part of that family and looking toward the season.”
Kandt knows first-hand about the talent Reinhardt has to offer from coaching against the Lady Eagles.
“It was a tough game both times that we played them,” Kandt said.
Reinhardt split its two meetings with Virginia Intermont, losing in four sets on the road, but winning in four in Waleska.
“I’m excited to be on this side with the Reinhardt girls because I know what they are capable of,” Kandt said. “I’m looking forward to raising the bar and making them even better.”
Reinhardt went 17-9 in 2013 and reached the semifinals of the AAC tournament for the first time. With the new season starting in just a few months, Kandt won’t have an opportunity to recruit, but she feels pretty good about the players already on the roster.
“I feel like I’m going into a good situation because there are so many returners,” she said. “They have a solid center. If I had been here a couple of months ago, it might have been helpful to bring in one or two players that I might have seen, but I trust the coach that was here before me to recruit talent, and I’m excited. You can’t think about what could have happened. I’m just grateful for the players we do have.”
Katelyn Wienbarg, a Sequoyah High School product who began her college career at Coastal Georgia, and former Etowah High School standout Chelsea Brady are among the local players currently on the Lady Eagles’ roster.
Prior to serving as Virginia Intermont’s head coach, Kandt spent four years as an assistant. The California native played for King College in Bristol, Tenn., where she played four years as a setter.
Kant helped King to an overall record of 140-56, which included three regular-season AAC championships and four AAC tournament championships.
Reinhardt has been close to hiring a volleyball coach for several months following Hayes’ departure because of family commitments. At one point the university was pursuing former Georgia State coach Tami Audia, who passed on the position when her husband, former Sequoyah High coach Kelly Audia, took and assistant coaching position at Clemson.