M.J. Reneau became the head volleyball coach for the Albany Lady Lions before the 2019 season. Her arrival in Albany was a homecoming for Reneau. She grew up in Shackelford County and played volleyball for the Lady Lions. As a matter of fact, her 2008 team was the last to advance to the state semifinals before the 2020 Lady Lions matched that feat.
M.J. Reneau said, “Albany, I mean, it’s home. We have great community support. When we came in from our last playoff game, the streets were lined with cars, and they were honking. It was a great experience.”
Hannah Trail added, “She grew up here, knows the community, knows how everything works. That, most likely, benefits the way she coaches us, and the way we run our plays and everthing.”
Reneau grew up with a coach in the house. Her mom was the head coach of that Albany team that went to the state tournament. It’s always been a part of her life, and coach Reneau says there was never any doubt what she wanted to do when she grew up.
Reneau said, “Since junior high, I knew I wanted to be a coach. I learned a lot just being a coaches kid and growing up in a gym. Since I can remember, I’ve been going to two-a-days.”
Most coaches were athletes when they were in high school and even college. That means most coaches are hyper driven and hyper competitive. That’s the case when it comes to Coach Reneau. Albany athletic director Denney Faith says Reneau has a bit of a split personality.
Denney Faith said, “When you get her off the court, she’s very sweet and very personable, but when she starts to compete, she competes like you would expect any good athlete.”
Torie Fuentes said, “She’s never easy on us in practice, which is a good thing as a coach because you don’t want to go easy, never easy on a practice especially this deep in the playoffs.”
Coaches can push and be tough on their players, but in the end, good coaches care about their players. The current Lady Lions know that Coach Reneau cares about them and wants them to succeed.
Trail added, “Whether they are the freshman we pulled up for playoffs that don’t necessarily play in the games, or the people that play all the way around, she makes sure that everybody has a very important role on the team no matter playing time or anything.”
Fuentes said, “She expects a lot out of us, and she wants the best for us.”
Reneau added, “The excitement that I get when we win; I see that in my girls. That’s the best part. Seeing them live this playoff run through has just been great!”
M.J. Reneau is the Abilene Teachers Credit Union Coach of the Week.