All in the family...brother-sister tandem build Lewisville volleyball into contender

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By Travis Jenkins

Josh and Amelia Renaud come from a volleyball family in New York but they’ve built a new volleyball family in Richburg.

Josh is the head coach of the Lewisville varsity volleyball team while Amelia (his sister) is the assistant varsity coach and the JV head coach. Volleyball is essentially in the genes of the two as their father, Bob Renaud, is the head volleyball coach at Carthage High in New York.

“I was on the court when I was probably five as a ball girl,” Amelia said. “We always knew we wanted to keep volleyball in our lives.”

Josh played soccer and lacrosse growing up, but also had a deep love of volleyball. Once he graduated from college and he started to look for a teaching job, he heard from a relative who lives in South Carolina that there were a lot of employment opportunities here.

“I came down for a job fair,” Josh said.

He found a teaching job (at Chester Park’s School of the Arts) but there were no volleyball coach positions open. A year later, once she graduated from college, Amelia made her way to Chester County as well, finding a teaching position at Lewisville Elementary School. At that point, the two didn’t have to look for a coaching opportunity…it came looking for them.

“I remember when we lost our previous volleyball coach. I put out that we needed volleyball coaches, but somebody told me about Josh and Amelia and said they might be interested. So I reached out and said “are y’all interested?’” said Lewisville Athletic Director Rusty Pemberton.

The two jumped at the chance and now had a program to call their own. Pemberton warned them about some potential hurdles, though.

“I told Josh the struggle was trying to get the girls to do more in the offseason,” Pemberton said.

Amelia said when they took over, volleyball was a bit of an afterthought. Many girls played it to either get a varsity letter or to stay in shape for other sports. There wasn’t a feeder system to speak of and most of the players worked on other sports in the offseason. That showed in the early returns.

“It was a struggle at first,” said junior Amber Bass.

The team struggled for success in the Renaud’s first year in 2014. The team won three matches in 2015. By the time last season arrived, though, things were different. Players actually had a chance to develop on the JV team and got to varsity ready to contribute. Interest increased and more girls started coming out for the team. Lewisville obviously has good athletes on campus, as evidenced by the team’s success in softball, track and cross-country and now they were playing volleyball too. Then at the top were Josh and Amelia who obviously know the game but also know how to handle players.

“We balance each other out,” Josh said. “I’m probably a little harder on them than she is, but sometimes she whispers ‘take it easy on her today.’ She can pick up on certain things I can’t. It helps that growing up, we were very close. We support each other fully and support the girls.”

All that made a difference, especially when combined with the athletic infrastructure at Lewisville. Pemberton said that includes former Principal Jim Knox and current Principal Tammy Snipes, both of whom believe athletics play an important part in the pride and morale of a school.

“Whether it’s softball, basketball, volleyball or whatever, when you put athletes like we have with good coaching and good community support, plus the administrative support we have, you are going to have good programs,” Pemberton said.

Josh said the last piece of the puzzle was building a family bond among teammates. On the court and off, he and Amelia wanted the team to be a tight-knit unit that trusted and respected one another like family members. All of those factors finally came together last year when the Lady Lions finished in second place in Region II, made the playoffs, advanced past the second round for the first time in school history and got all the way to the upperstate finals. Josh and Amelia were happy to see that the team wasn’t satisfied by the success. More players took part in club volleyball in the offseason and all players did what was asked of them to make 2017 even more successful. With Monday’s thrilling, five-set win over Dixie for the upperstate championship, that goal was realized. Lewisville faces Branchville Saturday for the state title.

Players know how much hard work has gone into getting this far and they are thankful to the school and community for the support they are receiving. They also don’t think they’d be where they are now with Josh and Amelia.

“They came in when we needed them the most,” Bass said. “They made us have more of a bond as a team. I think that’s what matters most is being close to each other.

“Before you’re teammates, you’re a family,” senior Lauren Crocker said.

For Josh and Amelia Renaud, volleyball and family have always gone hand-in-hand.