By Adam Brown
Ole Miss volleyball coach Kayla Banwarth was named the eighth coach in program history last December. If it’s one thing she wants to see going forward, it’s passion in the eyes of the players and fans.
Banwarth arrived in Oxford with a wealth of knowledge both as a player and a coach. As a player and assistant coach, she helped guide Nebraska to four conference championships, three final four appearances and a national title. In her career with Team USA, she garnered eight medals in international competition, including a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games.
“There are so many things I’ve learned from them. Coach (John) Cook is maybe one of the hardest working people I know so that work ethic, that discipline, that type of culture is definitely something that I will be bringing with me,” Banwarth said. “Then Karch (Kiraly) is really well-known for his learning mentality. He wants to be a great learner every day. Coming from someone like him, who has been at the top of his field on the court as a coach, to see that and learn from that, those will be the main things that I will be drawing from them.”
Since arriving to campus, Banwarth has hit the ground running talking to all of the recruits who are committed to play for the Rebels.
“It’s been a whirlwind. I am so excited to be here,” Banwarth said. “Still trying to get my head on straight but it has been really exciting. I’ve talked to all of our recruits and they all say that there is an amazing family atmosphere at Ole Miss which is something that I’m really, really excited about. The facilities, the way that the city is really supportive of the athletic department, are kind of the main things I’m hearing and the things that I will be building up.”
For her, making the transition from Nebraska to Mississippi to take over the program “just felt right.”
“I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I got here to visit, but it’s very similar to Nebraska,” Banwarth said. “The vibe of the city, the campus atmosphere, the support system, the facilities, and the athletic department. It’s very similar… so it just felt right and felt like I was at home when I came to visit.”
Banwarth’s teams play with a fast pace tempo on offense and are gritty players on defense who will bring intensity ever match to the floor, she said.
“I want gritty players. I want special athletes that are going to be grinding every day and know what hard work is,” Banwarth said. “They’re going to be ready to get after it. I’m ready to get after it, so I want girls that are that way as well.”
Banwarth sees no reason why Ole Miss can’t be an SEC Champion contender and an NCAA Tournament team every season.
“That’s the vision for me. Those are the goals for me and I’m willing to put in the work to make it happen,” Banwarth said.