Bijonae Jones
Graduate Assistant

Lamar University

AVCA Diversity Award Winner

Diversity Awards Winner Alumni Series

Bijonae Jones – class of 2018



How and where did your coaching career start?

In college, I originally planned to be a middle school teacher and of course, I would coach volleyball on the side.  Being a “volleyball junkie” I knew there was no way I would be able to give up volleyball completely after graduating college.  However, that plan did not work out the way I thought.  I spoke to my college coaches, Lynze Roos and Jordan Lay, and I mentioned I could see myself coaching at the collegiate level.  For me, coaching and teaching went hand in hand when it came down to the impact I wanted to make in others’ lives.  From that moment on they both took me under their wings and did everything they could to help spark my new career path – whether it was through recommendations, tips, or even referring me to other college coaches to coach at their summer camps.  My first official coaching job was a graduate assistant position at LaGrange College in Georgia.


How did it feel to learn that you were an AVCA Diversity Award recipient?

It was an amazing feeling for me, and I was BEYOND excited to even be considered for this award.  I was only a senior in college fresh off my last season as a collegiate athlete and looking at past recipients I noticed there were a lot of winners who were already in the field of coaching.  While applying there was a slight feeling that I didn’t quite meet the requirements since I was not a coach yet and would not receive the award, but I was so grateful to have been selected.  I’ll always have gratitude to those on the Diversity committee for giving me the opportunity to kickstart my coaching career.


How has the award impacted your coaching career?

The award has truly impacted my coaching career in such a major way.  At the time, my career had yet to begin and it gave me an opportunity to learn a lot of the ins and outs to coaching as I transitioned from player to coach.  I was able to network and connect with so many different people.  I was able to pick their brains of what I was to expect, receive advice, and so much more.  The AVCA Convention is an awesome opportunity for any coach but the AVCA Diversity Awards Program had an itinerary for our class that placed us in the same room with some coaching legends and these are moments I won’t forget.


What’s your favorite coaching memory?

My favorite coaching memory would have to be my first senior night this past year.  Our seniors wrote a note to the coaches that were announced during their ceremony.  Hearing their kind words about some of the impacts I made in my short time there was an instant reminder of why I am doing what I’m doing.  I love this game and I love all the girls I’ve crossed paths with.  As I continue to grow as a coach, I hope to always remember that season.


Do you have a fun fact to share about yourself?

A fun fact about myself would that I am a studio art minor and my senior year in college I had a complete art show based on wheel throwing and ceramics.  It gave me more jitters to present my art to others than I’ve ever felt playing in a big match.


Sports Imports would also like to recognize the entire 2018 class of AVCA Diversity Awards Winners:
  • Brandon Bader,  Head Women’s Volleyball Coach, Anoka-Ramsey Community College – formerly Westlake High School
  • Colin Cohen, Assistant Women’s Volleyball Coach, Eastern Washington University – formerly University of Utah
  • Dr. Ramona Cox, Associate AD, Detroit PAL and Head Girls’ Volleyball Coach, Cass Technical High School, MI
  • Barbara Gonzalez, Graduate Assistant – SWA Office, Providence College
  • Taylor Littleton, Head Women’s Volleyball Coach, Hesston College – formerly Barton Community College
  • Michael Lloyd, Head Coach, 16-1s, Cobb Atlanta Juniors, GA and Head Girls’ Volleyball Coach, Kennesaw Mountain High School, GA
  • Melody Nua, Assistant Coach, UNLV
  • Justin Paggao, Associate Director, Piedmont Volleyball Club, NC
  • Annesia Penright, Club Director, Cool Court Volleyball Club, TX
  • Samara West, Assistant Coach, Westminster College, PA
  • Alicia Wood, Head WVB Coach, Illinois College – formerly DePauw University, IN

To learn more about the AVCA Diversity Awards, visit our blog here.