Busy Randolph has Cal State East Bay on upswing

  • November 21, 2008

By Matt Schwab
Contra Costa Times
Updated: 10/11/2008


CAL STATE EAST BAY women's volleyball coach Jim Spagle thinks it's pretty amazing what senior Jackie Randolph is accomplishing.

She's a student, a devoted mom, a mentor to her younger teammates, and one of the top volleyball players in NAIA Division III.

Randolph, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter, brings a wow factor to Spagle's powerhouse team, which will make the big jump to NCAA Division II next fall.

The Pioneers, who hosted the Wild West Women's Volleyball Tournament this weekend, are closing in on their 13th straight season with at least 20 wins, in Spagle's 13th year as head coach. They entered the Wild West tourney with a 16-3 mark, an 11-match win streak and ranked 12th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll.

All-American candidates Randolph, Kelly Paris (Fremont) and libero Lauren Massa (Loveland, Colo.) lead the Pioneers, along with setter Roxanne Neely (Lancaster).

A spectacular leaper with power and agility, Randolph, 24, has reached several intersections in her collegiate career, and each time it appears she made the right turn.

After an unhappy experience at the University of Nevada, the former Encinal High star transferred to Contra Costa College, where she helped the women's basketball team advance to the state finals.

Then she met Spagle at an open gym at Cal State East Bay three years ago, and her career path changed again. She instantly fell in love with Spagle's coaching style and genuine nature, and opted to become a Pioneer, as a sophomore.

"I wanted to grow and I wanted learn and I wanted to be me," Randolph said, "and I felt like I could have that here (in Hayward)."

After playing one year at Cal State, Randolph became a mom. Baby Amira checked into the world on Oct. 21, 2006, born a month prematurely, and all wasn't right. Amira immediately needed open heart surgery at Children's Hospital in Oakland after being diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, an uncommon condition involving defects within heart structures of infants and young children, according to MayoClinic.com.

With early diagnosis followed by appropriate treatment, the majority of children with Tetralogy of Fallot live into adulthood. Consequently, Randolph decided to take two years off from volleyball - a prolonged hiatus that was tough to take at times. She remembers watching the Pioneers compete through teary eyes.

Now Amira, who will celebrate her second birthday in nine days, is doing just fine, although Randolph says she still might need two more surgeries. Randolph now takes online classes to be able to spend more time with Amira. Randolph said she receives support from the baby's father.

"I take nothing for granted now that I've had her," Randolph said. "I still appreciate my ability to play volleyball. She drives me, she really drives me. She may not be able to play sports in her life because of her condition, but it's definitely something that makes me play hard and keeps me going, for sure."

Last year as a junior, Randolph returned to volleyball with gusto. She was named team MVP after leading the Pioneers to the semifinals of the West Region, where the Pioneers fell to University of La Verne in five games. Randolph set a school record with 512 kills overall. She was honorable mention AVCA All-American and first team All-West Region.

"From an athletic standpoint, she's in my opinion the most dynamic kid in Division III volleyball," Spagle said. "When she's hungry and really rested and focused, I mean she's as good as anyone else in the country."

He added that her being a bit older than her teammates allows her to provide a unique insight to them. And she might become a dynamic coach as well. Randolph would love to return to Cal State as Spagle's assistant. Sounds like another turn for the better.


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