Love of God, volleyball keep LU coaching couple together


Photo by Carly Fristoe

Walker Van Wey | Reporter
Oct. 26, 2016; 7:00 a.m.

Jennifer and Kris Dorn

Faith, volleyball and a mutual college friend brought Jennifer and Kris “Coach K” Dorn together.

A love for student athletes, their faith and volleyball keep them together.

At the age of 21, Jennifer, women’s volleyball assistant coach, was playing at University of Southern California at the Final Four tournament that Kris was attending.

A mutual friend had been insisting the two meet at some point, and although the idea was dismissed repeatedly by the two, fate would have it that they would meet with an eerie familiarity.

“I was in the stands watching a match, and USC came out in warm-ups to watch their opponent,” said Kris. “It was like God slapped me upside the head. I never knew what she would look like, but once I saw her it was like some kind of déjà vu. I knew what she’d sound like, look like, smile like and everything.”

Out of college the two began coaching together at a school in Alabama where Kris was the head coach and Jennifer served as an assistant, and the two haven’t separated since.

The two mesh well with strengths complementing the other’s.

“He’s very organized and communicates so well,” said Jennifer. “And I ramble and get ahead of myself a lot. We both love our student athletes. He’s got more experience in head coaching, and that totally helps.”

Something that has aided them strongly in working through the busy schedule of a collegiate coach is the mutual understanding of one another’s schedule.

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”Jennifer Dorn” link=”” color=”#D5DD58″ class=”” size=”30″]”It actually helps us power through that kind of stress, and we know we’re going back to people we love, which is what matters more.”[/perfectpullquote]

“I wouldn’t be a good coach’s wife if I didn’t coach too,” Jennifer said. “We miss so much social stuff because of practice, recruiting, traveling and other stuff. We understand each other’s schedule. Not that I wouldn’t be supportive if I wasn’t coaching also, it would just be tough.”

Kris added, “Coaches could spend a lifetime on coaching, recruiting and reviewing video. So we put a stamp on our time away from it and say, ‘this is our free time.’ It’s taught us to be real purposeful with our time.”

Although the two are competitive with lighthearted personalities, they don’t compete or keep score at home.

Wins and losses actually don’t play as big of a factor in coaching as it may for others.

“Looming out of the distance is the possibility of being fired, but so much about what we train is to play successful volleyball,” Kris said. “There is pressure to win, but that’s not all it’s about for us. We’re here to develop people. Wins are a byproduct of how well we do at that.”

Being together at work and striving for the same goals every day brings benefits to the marriage in dealing with stress of the work day.

Poor games and other obstacles that one of them may go through, the other not only understands, but experiences as well.

“Usually [working together] can help,” Kris said. “It actually helps us power through that kind of stress, and we know we’re going back to people we love, which is what matters more.”

Although it was volleyball that brought them together and keeps them together, the love for helping student athletes and the power of Christ remains the bigger picture in their careers, lives and marriage, they said.

“What makes us work is our relationship with Christ,” Jennifer said. “We work well as a married couple, but at the end of the day it’s our mission to pour what we have into whoever is around us. It’s for Christ and what he’s given us and done for us. We try and impress that upon others.”
The men’s volleyball season begins with a road game on Jan. 6 against California Baptist University.

The women’s team takes on the University of Illinois Springfield in a home game at the Hyland Arena on Oct. 25.