Mary Whitehead enters her 14th season as head coach of the Evangel University volleyball program needing just three wins to reach the 300 victories in her career. She enters the season ranked 20th in career wins among all NAIA active head coaches and is 23rd among active coaches nationally in the NAIA in win percentage (.636).
Whitehead is 297-170 (.636) in 13 years as a head coach, all at Evangel and is the school’s all-time leader in victories within the program. She was named HAAC Coach of the Year in 2009 as Evangel won the HAAC tournament championship and advanced to their first ever NAIA National Tournament appearance. Whitehead also guided the team to a perfect 10-0 conference record in 2010 as they team posted a 27-6 overall record. Whitehead has a career record of 78-50 (.609) in the Heart of America conference.
The last four years has seen unprecedented success for Evangel volleyball. In addition to their first conference regular season and league tournament championship, Whitehead’s teams have compiled a record of 106-35 (.752) while going 31-7 (.816) in the conference over the same span.
In 2009, Whitehead passed Sandra Sorbo in all-time coaching wins in the program as she picked up her 219th career victory in her 10th season as head coach. Her .636 winning percentage is also the best all-time in the program’s 45-year history.
Prior to Whitehead’s arrival at Evangel the most consecutive winning seasons for the team was three (1980-82). Evangel will enter 2013 with 10 straight winning seasons.
Whitehead shared the head coaching duties with Dawn Neal in 2000 before taking over the program in 2001. She has served Evangel University as the director of the Mabee Student Fitness Center and has taught in the Evangel Kinesiology department. She was also the assistant softball coach for two years (1999-2000) at Evangel.
A 1997 graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University, Whitehead was a two-sport athlete earning three letters in softball and volleyball. She was an all-HAAC selection twice in softball, a NCCAA All-American in softball in 1997 and named the team MVP three times during her career. In addition, she was a NAIA All-American Scholar-Athlete in 1996 and 1997 for softball and volleyball.
As a prep athlete, Whitehead won three volleyball and three softball letters at Burlington High School in Iowa. She lettered two years in basketball and was a four-year track letter winner. Whitehead earned all-district and all-conference honors as a volleyball and softball player at Burlington and was an all-conference basketball performer. She graduated from Burlington in 1992.
Formerly Mary Penrod, Whitehead was married to husband Jake in the summer of 2008. They reside in Fair Grove with their two sons.
Mallory Lawson will enter her fourth year with Evangel volleyball serving as assistant coach. Lawson coached club volleyball for Club Bear for four seasons in addition to serving as an assistant coach at Glendale High School and Millard South High School.
Originally from Norfolk, Nebraska, Lawson was a two-time all-state volleyball performer in high school and set school single season and career records for aces and hitting percentage as well as a single season mark in kills. She played collegiate volleyball at Creighton from 2004-06 and was their Defensive Player of the Year in 2006.
She finished her degree in Dietetics at Missouri State University. Lawson is also serves as the director of the Mabee Fitness Center. Her husband Matt is a former Missouri State baseball player and plays professionally in the Cleveland Indians organization.
Graduate Assistant Coach
Bri Walsh enters her first season on the Evangel volleyball coaching staff serving as a graduate assistant and junior varsity head coach. Walsh played two seasons of volleyball at Evangel and last year saw action with the women’s basketball team.
With the volleyball program, she was an honorable mention All-American in her senior year and was named an all-conference performer in both seasons with the Crusaders.
Last year, she became only the second women’s athlete in the last 10 years to play on two different team sports and the first one in a decade to serve as a starter on both teams.
Walsh played two seasons at Missouri State-West Plains before transferring to Evangel. She was a part of two national junior college runner-ups and was named All-Region in both her seasons.
She graduated from Evangel last year with a degree in Recreation and is currently working on a Master’s in Education. Walsh is also serving as the graduate assistant in the Sports Information Department.
Student Assistant Coach
Kaley Lyons will serve as a student assistant coach for Evangel after she finished her playing career last season. Lyons set the program’s all-time kills record, was a four-time All-Heart of America conference performer and the school’s first four-time NAIA All-American. Lyons was the HAAC Player of the Year in 2010 and 2011 and was the league’s Freshman / Newcomer of the Year in 2009.
A product of Glendale H.S. in Springfield, Lyons helped her team to a Class 4 state final four appearance and was an All-State selection in volleyball and a Class 5 All-State selection in basketball. Lyons was named the News-Leader Female Athlete of the Year following her senior season in 2008-09.
Lyons is scheduled to graduate this year and is majoring in Recreation with a minor in Sports Administration and Physical Education.