In a surprising move Wednesday, Southridge High School volleyball coach John Lengphounpraseut tendered his resignation.
“I need to go a different way,” Lengphounpraseut said. “This has been weighing on my head the past three months. I am going to focus my time on club volleyball. That’s what I want to do. I will take a year off and see if I have the desire to coach high school volleyball again.”
Lengphounpraseut was head coach of the Suns the past 16 years. While he doesn’t mark his team’s success in wins and losses, he does take pride in the fact his teams were the first in school history to reach regionals in 2005, and he took the Suns to state for the first time in 2006.
Southridge won two Mid-Columbia Conference titles, and advanced to regionals the past 13 years, winning once. The Suns have made six state appearances, placing third twice (2012-13) and sixth in 2014.
“Records are not important to me,” Lengphounpraseut said. “For me, it’s life skills I can share with the kids. I want nothing but the best for them on and off the court. My heart will always be (at Southridge).”
Lengphounpraseut came to Southridge in 2002 from Hermiston, where he spent five years with the Bulldogs.
During his time with Hermiston, Lengphounpraseut guided the Bulldogs to three Intermountain Conference titles and three state appearances. He was named IMC Coach of the Year in 1998 and 1999.
Lengphounpraseut has been a fixture on the sidelines in the Mid-Columbia since 1988, when he accepted his first coaching job at Richland High School, his alma mater. That year, he coached the junior varsity team.
From there, he was an assistant at Columbia Basin College under John Patrick
Lengphounpraseut has run the highly successful Columbia Junior Volleyball Club for 29 years, where he has coached some of the top talent in the Tri-Cities and beyond — but never his own players, because that is against the rules.
Over the years, Lengphounpraseut has seen 112 players from his Columbia Junior program move on to play college volleyball. Of that group, 30 went on to play at the NCAA Div. I level.
Among those 30 are Anna Reznicek (1996 Hermiston grad) at the University of Idaho, Nanette Allen (1997, Pasco) at Iowa State, Jo Dockstader (1997, Pasco) at Gonzaga, McKenzie Burgess (2003, Kiona-Benton) at Washington State, and more recently, Caitlyn Linke (2017, Pasco) and Leanna Shymanski (2017, Kamiakin) are at Eastern Washington.
“For me, it’s the love of the game,” Lengphounpraseut said.