RRC: Thank you for sharing how your faith is at work in the community. Was it a spiritual calling that led you to become the Head Volleyball Coach at ASU
PLW: Yes, I believe my purpose in life is to impact, infuse and inspire student-athletes to be the best version of themselves through sport. There is so much development one can see through the discipline of playing sports with a team. It transfers into shaping the character of our youth and presents an opportunity for leadership growth and development. I believe sport is a laboratory for life, and I have an incredible opportunity to be a change agent that develops young girls into strong women of faith. I know that was my spiritual calling because of how easily everything unfolded before I got to ASU.
RRC: What are some daily ways you are reassured you are in the occupation God has for you?
PLW: That is an interesting question because my reassurance comes from different places. Often it is the love of the sport and community with my team and staff. Both continue to fill my cup so that I can fulfill my purpose. However, sometimes reassurance does not come until years down the road when an old teammate, mentor, boss, athlete, or colleague comes and thanks me for being present or providing some type of service or assistance to their life. Although coaches are often measured by the outcome, it is in the process and sometimes later down the road that you receive the reassurance and that makes it all worth it.
RRJ: Mornings can be a very sacred time to start your day. Do you have a particular morning routine that helps you maintain having a servant’s heart each day?
PLW: Yes, I do. I am super critical of where my heart is always. I make it a routine to spend time in my prayer closet. This has always been a sacred place for me, so whether we are practicing at 5 am, I always find time to make it back to my prayer closet. Another way I like to finish my day is with my neighbors. We created a habit to pray every evening at the start of the pandemic in Spring 2020, and it is something we have continued going into 2022.
RRJ: For most of us, we find solace in our faith journey. How does your faith sustain you in continuing to dedicate yourself to your career, even when there are challenges ahead?
PLW: Whenever I look at my past and all my struggles through life, there is one thing that has remained the same. And it is my faith. I go back to my roots and what I know… and what I know is that my faith has always been my anchor to provide me a solid foundation during all my challenges.
RRJ: As Christians, we all struggle at times in our places of employment. What advice would you give to individuals who have difficulties in the workplace?
PLW: There are rules I must follow as a coach. I cannot force or put religion on my team. They have to welcome it first. However, I know one thing I can control is my inner circle of mentors, colleagues, and staff. My advice would be to surround yourself with a solid foundation of believers and positive people to lean on when struggling in the workplace.
RRJ: Being a believer in Christ, there are values you live by each day. What are some of the values you carry in your personal and professional life?
PLW: I believe in trustworthiness, integrity, and servant leadership. As a leader to my team and staff, I want them to be honest with me, which will allow us to reach our goals. Conflict occurs; it is inevitable and healthy. However, with these three values, a group can effectively push through and achieve its goals. And be good people to one another during these conflicts.
Penny is a former United States of America national player. She recently finished her 11th season as the head volleyball coach at ASU. She is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and has three children: Kyle, Kayla, and Keefe.