A former USF standout on the court, Jolene Shepardson was named head coach of the Bulls volleyball program on Jan. 8, 2020.
The Tampa native returned to USF 18 years after helping lead the Bulls volleyball program to its last conference championship and NCAA tournament appearance as a student-athlete in 2002. She returned to the Bay area where she also earned Gatorade Player of the Year honors as a senior at Tampa Prep and went on to help lead the University of Tampa to the Division II National Championship match before playing her final two seasons of collegiate volleyball at USF.
“I am really excited to have Jolene leading our program and am thrilled to welcome her back to USF and her family to the Bulls family,” Kelly said. “Not only does she have tremendous ability and a track record of building programs and maximizing student-athletes’ potential, but she has a deep and passionate connection to this university, our volleyball program, and the Bay area. We are very excited for the future of USF volleyball.”
Shepardson came to USF with nine years of head coaching experience at the collegiate level, most recently guiding San Jose State for six seasons and prior to that Cal State Bakersfield for three. Both programs saw dramatic improvement under Shepardson’s leadership. SJSU went from 253 in the RPI prior to her arrival to 130 and posted the first back-to-back winning seasons in 17 years, while Bakersfield went from a winless season and 300 RPI to a program record 21 wins and 133 RPI.
"I couldn't be more grateful for this opportunity to be back in the Bay area leading my alma mater here at USF," Shepardson said. "My heart beats with pride for USF. My vision for our program is to attract student-athletes that have a passion for the game and a love for their team.
"I am extremely thankful to Michael Kelly, Lelo Prado and Dr. Jodie Libadisos for this wonderful opportunity, their trust in my leadership, and their powerful vision for the future of USF Volleyball."
In six seasons at SJSU (2014-19), Shepardson led the Spartans to steady growth on and off the court, going from four wins overall to 17 and from one conference win to 11. The team posted back-to-back winning seasons in 2017 and 2018, the first since 2001 for the program, and garnered three All-Mountain West Conference selections in 2018. In 2018, her team went 11-7 in the Mountain West, its most conference wins since joining the conference in 2013, and finished fourth, the program’s highest finish in any conference since 2006. In 2017, the Spartans posted a 17-12 overall record, marking the first winning season for the program since 2006. SJSU defeated Mountain West champion Colorado State at Spartan Gym in 2016 and 2017, the 2017 win stopping the Rams’ 15-match winning streak and giving the Spartans their first win over a ranked opponent since 2001. The 2016 victory over CSU was the program’s first since 1998 and ended the Rams’ 31-match Mountain West winning streak.
Her SJSU teams produced an average of six all-academic team members and a 3.2 GPA each year, with 10 Spartans earning 19 Mountain West Scholar-Athlete accolades and 18 players earning 35 Academic All-Mountain West honors in four years. Four Spartan players were honored as Arthur Ashe Junior Sports Scholars, including Jamie Hirai who was a three-time first-team selection. Shepardson also initiated fundraising campaigns that enhanced financial support for the program.
In three seasons in Bakersfield (2011-13), Shepardson led the program from zero wins to 21 and to second-place regular season and tournament finishes in the Western Athletic Conference while also starting the beach volleyball program. She took over a program that went 0-31 in 2010 and led it to an 8-18 record in her first year, the sixth-best improvement in the NCAA. The 2012 team continued the upward progression, finishing with a 14-17 record in the team's final season as an NCAA Division I Independent, and her 2013 team posted a 21-12 overall record and 12-4 mark in its first season in the WAC, setting a school record for most wins in a season. The team finished second in the 2013 WAC regular-season standings and advanced to the championship match of the WAC Tournament. Three Roadrunners earned first or second-team All-WAC honors and four received Academic All-WAC honors.
Shepardson spent the 2010 season as an assistant coach at Virginia Tech, helping lead the Hokies to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, in which they advanced to the second round before falling to eventual national champion Penn State. Two Hokies, Felicia Willoughby, and Cara Baarendse, earned All-America honors. Shepardson served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at American University (2009), coached with Front Range Volleyball Club in Colorado (2006-08) and was a volunteer assistant coach at Winthrop University (2005) and Regis University (2004-05). An honor roll student, Shepardson graduated from USF in 2002 with a degree in psychology. She is also a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer.
As a collegiate player at USF (2000-2002), the former Jolene Patton was part of Bulls teams that won two Conference USA regular-season co-championships (2000 and 2002) and made two NCAA Tournament appearances (2000 and 2002). She ranked second on the team with 416 kills, 35 service aces and 377 digs in 2002 as the Bulls advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, sweeping Florida State in the first round before falling to host Florida. Shepardson finished her career with 729 kills in two seasons, ranking second on the team in both years.
Prior to USF, she played two seasons at the University of Tampa, earning Sunshine State Conference Freshman of the Year, second-team All-SCC and All-South Region honors in 1998. As a sophomore in 1999, she was named first-team All-SCC and All-South Region as she helped lead the team to the NCAA Division II National Championship match.
Following her collegiate career, Shepardson played one season professionally (2004) for Jakarta Monas in the PT Pro Liga in Indonesia. She was also a standout prep volleyball player at Tampa Preparatory School, earning Gatorade Florida High School Player of the Year honors. Born in Live Oak, Fla., she and her husband, Aaron, have two daughters Mirabelle (7) and Marielle (4), and two sons, McCoy (5) and Major (1). Aaron was a member of the USA Men's National Volleyball team in 2000 and 2001 and played professionally in Indonesia and Belgium in 2003.
Aaron Shepardson, Associate Head Coach
Aaron Shepardson is in his fifth season as the associate head coach for the San José State women's indoor volleyball team in addition to serving as the Spartan beach volleyball head coach.
Shepardson has improved all facets of the game for Spartan players. San José State was one of the top-five blocking teams in the Mountain West in 2016. Nandyala Gama was an honorable mention All-MW selection in 2016 and was one of the top blockers in the conference at 1.23 per set. She recorded the second-highest season block assists total at San José State with 128, while her 137 total blocks are tied for sixth-best in a season.
As head coach of the beach program, Shepardson has grown the program from inception to its fourth season. After a struggle to win in the beginning, the Spartans have posted at least seven wins each of the past two years and upset nationally-ranked California three times.
He came to San José State after three seasons with similar responsibilities at CSU Bakersfield. In indoor volleyball, the Roadrunners went from a winless program prior to his arrival to setting a school record for single-season victories with 21 in 2013. CSU Bakersfield reached the 2013 Western Athletic Conference championship match.
In beach volleyball, the Roadrunners played their first season of sand volleyball in 2013, finishing with a 5-7 win-loss record. CSU Bakersfield played half of its 12-match schedule against top-five ranked teams nationally.
His other major college indoor volleyball experiences include serving as an assistant coach at Virginia Tech (2010), American University (2008 and 2009), Winthrop University (2005) and the University of Denver (2002). Winthrop won the 2005 Big South Conference championship. Shepardson also was a volunteer assistant the University of Florida in 2004. He began his coaching career as a student assistant at Baylor University in 1996 and held that position for two years.
Shepardson was the head coach of the Front Range Volleyball Club - Mountain Division from 2006 to 2008. He also was the assistant coach for Front Range's 18-Open National Championship team in 2002.
A native of Littleton, Colo., Shepardson graduated from Baylor in 1998 with a degree in psychology. He played on Baylor's men's volleyball club as an outside hitter and setter and was a member of the USA Men's National Volleyball team in 2000 and 2001. In 2003, Shepardson played professionally in Indonesia and Belgium.
He and his wife, Jolene, have four children – Mirabelle (6), McCoy (4) and Marielle (3), and Major, born on July 6.