Speer

Speer

Walla Walla Community College volleyball coach Chelsie Speer is a proven winner.

As a three-sport athlete at Pendleton High School.

A Northwest Athletic Conference champion as both a player and coach.

And now, as head coach at WWCC.

Speer, who is married to Warrior baseball coach Justin Speer, was born in Enterprise, Oregon, and lived for a short time in La Grande before her family moved to Pendleton — where she played volleyball, basketball and softball for the Buckaroos, a member of the then-Class 4A Intermountain Conference.

“We were always real competitive in all three sports,” Speer said. “We were always in the top two or three in the league every year, and always made the postseason.”

Opposing stiff competition like Hermiston, La Grande, Bend, Mountain View, Redmond and Crook County, Speer said.

“We traveled a lot and played doubleheaders on long road trips,” Speer said.

Speer said her whole life in the Roundup City revolved around sports.

“I still have friends to this day that I played with,” Speer said. “I loved Pendleton — the community aspect. My grandparents grew up there. They were embedded in the community.”

Speer attended Mt. Hood Community College after graduating from Pendleton. She played volleyball and softball for the Saints.

“I checked out a lot of NWAC schools,” Speer said. “Mt. Hood felt right. I connected with the volleyball coach there. It felt like the right place to be.”

Speer was part of an NWAC championship volleyball team in 2001. She tore an ACL while playing softball the following spring when Mt. Hood placed third in the conference tourney.

The Saints captured the 2002 volleyball crown. Speer redshirted that season.

“Those were unique experiences with NWAC titles,” Speer said.

Speer attended Portland State and played volleyball for one season. She was an assistant volleyball coach at Mt. Hood during her senior year at PSU.

“We finished second and lost to Walla Walla in the championship match,” Speer said.

The Saints won NWAC championships in 2006 and 2007 before Speer returned to Pendleton for one season as head volleyball coach. Then she went back to Mt. Hood to corral the reins of the volleyball program.

“I was thinking I was going to stay forever,” Speer said of her Pendleton return. “But I only stayed nine months.

“When I got to Mt. Hood, the expectations were to win titles,” Speer said. “We had a lot of success. Players bought in because of the success. Their success is engrained in me.”

The Saints never finished lower than fourth in the NWAC Tournament in Speer’s reign from 2009-13 and seized the 2011 championship with a win over Walla Walla.

Speer is approaching her seventh season as WWCC head coach. The Warriors have been NWAC Tournament contenders in each of her first six years.

“A lot of people said, ‘Why leave Mt. Hood?’” Speer said. “It was part time. I wanted to go to a smaller community closer to my hometown.

“Everything fell into place here,” Speer said. “I love the athletes I’ve coached. The kids I’ve recruited remind me a lot of myself. They’ve learned to fill roles better. I value that. I value bench players as much as starters.” Speer said coaching is like life...it’s a journey.

“I love working with kids and the challenge of it,” Speer said. “I have a passion teaching kids life through sport. I will do it as long as I can manage balancing my family and my husband’s coaching career.”

Roy Elia can be reached at royelia@wwub.com.