BOONE — Watauga High School Athletic Director Dustin Kerley announced June 13 that Jennifer Pillow will be the new Pioneer’s head girl’s tennis coach.
Pillow, who is involved with tennis programs at Deer Valley Athletic Club, “has experience working with high school and college level athletes in regards to training and preparing for their specific sports,” Kerley said in a statement.
Pillow replaces Carol Almond, who stepped down at the end of the 2018 season.
“She is a person who is connected in our community,” Kerley said of Pillow. “You can see her energy and her passion when you start talking to her. I think she’s going to be a huge asset to our program and she’s going to do a good job.”
Pillow, who played prep tennis in New Rochelle, N.Y., a New York City suburb, already knows some of the Watauga players from Deer Valley.
“I’ve been back playing on a regular basis for three years now at Deer Valley Athletic Club,” Pillow said. “I’m friends with Carol Almond and I know Carol stepped down and nobody really stepped up. I thought it would be something really different and fun, and I’d like to bring some exciting energy to the team.”
Pillow did that with a team she was a member of before coaching the Pioneers. She was a popular member of the Appalachian Rollergirls roller derby team earlier in the decade. Known as “Rolli Canoli” to Rollergirls fans, she has also been part of a roller derby in Asheville, returned to Boone for one more season before breaking her leg.
Pillow is still active in roller derby, but on an administrative level for the league the Rollergirls skate. While playing in Asheville, Pillow maintained her residence in Boone and made the two-hour commute to Asheville to skate.
“I’ll be retired from roller derby three years in September due to an injury,” she said. “It was a non-contact injury, but I played for six years. I came back to play for Appalachian and I got prematurely stopped by the injury.”
Pillow would like to meet with Kerley to see why types of things she can do with the players over the summer.
“I would really like them to focus on conditioning pre-tryouts and get into that mind-set to be tennis-ready,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll be able to do a camp this year, but it’s definitely something I’d be interested in doing next summer preseason.”