This fall, Michelle Jakubowski will be back where she belongs.
After two years as Huntley’s athletic director, Jakubowski is returning to the volleyball bench. Barrington recently hired her to be its girls volleyball coach. She succeeds Rob Ridenour, who will focus on coaching the boys team.
“It’s hard to replace someone like Rob, but Barrington did very well in getting Michelle,” said Lake Zurich coach Matt Aiello, who was Jakubowski’s assistant for three years. “I wasn’t remotely surprised when I heard she was getting back into coaching. She’s one of those volleyball people, and I had the feeling she was getting the itch to coach again.”
Jakubowski said she enjoyed her time running an athletic department and coaching her daughter’s club volleyball team (ages 11-12). However, those experiences didn’t replace coaching varsity volleyball.
“I loved seeing each sport develop and be successful, but it was harder for me than that I thought it would be not to coach,” she said. “I love coaching high school sports and developing that connection with the kids. Not only teaching them volleyball but the life skills. I missed seeing a group of players [mature] from freshman to senior year.”
Jakubowski coached Lake Zurich from 2000-2006 before spending six consecutive seasons at Huntley, where her husband is the baseball coach.
Jakubowski, who will also be a full-time staff member at Barrington, has attacked her first three weeks on the job with the energy her former players and coaches would expect. She’s already run Barrington’s camp, and the Fillies are also playing in a competitive summer league.
“She pushes players hard and gets them to buy into her philosophy,” Aiello said. “I’m a huge fan of her coaching.”
Incoming junior libero Olivia Hagan said the intensity and energy levels are high.
“She’s nice but intense, which is what we need,” Hagan said. “She’s really pushing us to be conditioned so we can play our game the whole game. We’re working hard and emphasizing defense and serve-receive.”
Jakubowski said she likes the way the Fillies are responding.
“Barrington has always had a great volleyball program,” she said. “When I say something, they listen and ask questions. It’s been a lot of fun and you can see the girls really want to win and be that group that takes it to the next level. I want a lot of talking and communication on the court. We’re going to be a defensive-minded team with [good] ball control, and we want to serve very aggressively.”