Southern Miss Announces Jenny Hazelwood as Volleyball Coach

Published 3:50 pm Monday, December 20, 2021

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Southern Miss Director of Athletics Jeremy McClain announced Monday afternoon the hiring of Jenny Hazelwood as volleyball coach, becoming the 12th head coach in the program’s history.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Coach Jenny Hazelwood and her family to Southern Miss,” said McClain. “Jenny brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as a head coach and is well-connected throughout the volleyball world. Her passion for the game and her student-athletes came through during the search process, and we look forward to watching her lead the Golden Eagles to new heights!”

With 15 years’ experience as a collegiate head coach, Hazelwood has enjoyed stops at her alma mater, Mississippi State, as well as Austin Peay, Centenary College in Shreveport, La., and Mississippi College. Her most recent work experiences has been as a television analyst for both ESPN and the SEC Network, as well as an assistant coach with the USA Volleyball (USAV) Junior National program. Her duties also have included founding the Infinity Volleyball Academy for club teams in Flowood, Miss She has served in numerous leadership roles within the USA Volleyball High Performance programs, including the lead for the Women’s Junior A1 Program (USAV High Performance Championship Head Coach) and Select A1 Coach (USAV High Performance Championship Associate Head Coach), and was a part of numerous other USAV High Performance programs through the years.

In her six seasons at the helm of the Mississippi State program, Hazelwood posted the school’s first-ever victories over Top 20 RPI teams including Kentucky in 2011 and LSU in 2014. In addition, her sixth-place showing in the SEC ranked as the best finish in Mississippi State history until this season.

Her accomplishments also included having three AVCA All-Region and All-American selections, coming during the 2013-2014 seasons, which are the only three in Bulldog history, while also having two All-SEC selections, five All-SEC Freshman picks, two SEC Offensive Players of the Week, three SEC Defensive Players of the Week and six SEC Freshmen of the Week – the most in school history.

“I am honored to have been chosen to lead this Southern Miss Volleyball program,” said Hazelwood. “From top notch facilities to great support from athletic administration, it is clear that Southern Miss is a special place. I’m thankful to Athletic Director Jeremy McClain, Senior Associate AD Brian Morrison and SWA Sonya Varnell for their incredible support of volleyball at USM and for entrusting me to lead this program. I can’t wait to get in the gym with this group and continue to build on the great foundation they already have in place! SMTTT!”

Off the court, Hazelwood oversaw one AVCA Academic All-American in 2009 and Kayla Woodard received CoSIDA Academic All-American honors in 2010, making the third player in Mississippi State history. Five players were selected to the SEC Community Service team during her tenure.

Her team also posted nine of the top 10 attendance figures in school history at the time and eclipsed the MSU attendance record with 4,525.

Upon graduation from Mississippi State in 2000, she stayed in Mississippi to launch her coaching career, serving for two seasons as head volleyball coach at Mississippi College. While directing the Choctaws’ program, she was responsible for recruiting players that garnered American Southwest Conference East Division Freshman of the Year honors in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

She continued her coaching career in 2002 at Centenary College. During five seasons at Centenary, her teams took on the likes of Virginia and Southeastern Conference foes Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Tennessee. She guided her initial Centenary team, one with two players from a three-win club the previous season, to a 13-win campaign. That feat earned her Independent Coach of the Year national honors in 2002. Two players from her 2006 team earned Mid-Continent Conference (now Summit League) All-Freshman team honors, the first all-conference honors ever accorded to a Centenary volleyball player.

Hazelwood accepted the head coaching post at Austin Peay in 2007, guiding a team that returned just six letter-winners and three starters to an 8-25 finish in her first season coaching the Lady Govs. Her second APSU edition drew national attention when it produced a 14-win improvement and rated as college volleyball’s most dramatic turnaround that fall. That Lady Gov team, picked to finish ninth in the 10-team Ohio Valley Conference, compiled a 22-11 worksheet and surprised league foes with a third-place finish and a win out of first place.

One of Hazelwood’s prized recruits, junior outside hitter Stephanie Champine, eared first-team All-OVC and OVC All-Newcomer team honors and became the first Austin Peay player to receive American Volleyball Coaches Association’s All-Midwest Region team honors.

Additionally, her 2008 team was selected by the league’s coaches and players for the Ohio Valley Conference Sportsmanship Award.

As a player, Hazelwood enjoyed a successful four-year playing career at the setter position at Mississippi State (1996-99), in which she holds several records including the top assist marks for a match (83), a season (1,541) and career (5,505) and finishing fourth in the SEC in setting. She excelled in the classroom, becoming the first Bulldog volleyball player to earn SEC Academic Honor Roll honors all four of her collegiate years. Additionally, she was honored as the recipient of MSU’s Newsom Award for athletic and academic excellence.

Hazelwood is married to Clinton, Miss., native Brian Hazelwood, a two-time All-Southeastern Conference placekicker during his football career at Mississippi State (1995 to 1998). He later played four seasons as a placekicker in the arena football league, earning second-team all-league honors in three of his four seasons and in 2011 joined the Volleyball Bulldog staff as a volunteer assistant.

The Hazelwoods are the parents of three children, Sarah (18), Allie (16) and Drew (10).