Jennifer Calloway is in her 21st season as the head coach of the USC Upstate volleyball program.
She stepped onto the USC Upstate campus over 20 years ago and immediately left her mark, setting the team on its way to the highest winning percentage in school history with a 38-4 record (.905). Two years later, just months after receiving her bachelor’s degree, Calloway began her career as a head coach at Upstate, making her the youngest coach in the NCAA at the time.
Twenty years and 325 wins later, Calloway is still on the sidelines for USC Upstate. Calloway achieved a career milestone to close the book on the 2013 season as she recorded her 300th career victory with a 3-1 win over North Florida in the season finale. She currently owns an all-time record of 325-311 for a winning percentage of .511.
The success of the two-time Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year has been constant, leading the Spartans to eight 20-win seasons, coaching two conference players of the year, three freshmen of the year, two CoSIDA Academic All-District selections and 21 all-conference performers.
Calloway is currently second all-time at Upstate in career wins with 325. She sits 25 wins behind her mentor, Dr. Joe Bowman, who coached the Spartans from 1978-87, and then again in 1995. She has compiled six 20-win seasons during her tenure including a combined 41 victories during her first two years as head coach. Calloway continued that momentum the following six seasons as Upstate posted at least 19 wins per season and appearing in the first round of the NCAA Division II South Regional Tournament twice.
“Coach Calloway knows the game; she’s been around it most of her life,” former Spartan volleyball player Becky Greiling said. “She’s smart, intuitive and she’s a competitor at heart. She’s always there for her players, both on and off the court. She has all the elements of a great coach. She is a great coach. Jen makes it fun to be a volleyball player. She’s honest and approachable, and she truly cares about you. She’s one of those people that makes you a better person and she’s also a person that years later, you can call a friend.”
A part of the USC Upstate community for more than a quarter of its 43 years, Calloway stabilized a volleyball program that had seven coaches in a nine-year period when she took over at age 23 in 1996. The Spartans took nine trips to the Peach Belt Conference Tournament semifinals in 11 seasons at the Division II level with Calloway on the bench. In 2004, Calloway was at the helm of the volleyball program when the University changed its name from USC Spartanburg to USC Upstate and its athletic programs’ nickname from Rifles to Spartans. In 2007, she led Upstate athletics into the Division I era, coaching the Spartans in the first athletic event at the D-I level, a 3-0 sweep of Savannah State on Aug. 24.
As a member of the Peach Belt Conference, Calloway guided Upstate to a 235-115 record highlighted by four straight 20-win seasons from 2000-03. The Spartans would make an appearance in the Peach Belt Tournament semifinals five straight years, 2002-06, to close out its tenure in the league. Calloway led Upstate to two 11-win seasons in Peach Belt play in 2001 and 2003.
Throughout her career at USC Upstate, Calloway has coached all but one volleyball player currently in the Upstate Hall of Fame. She was a teammate with Michelle Graham (1996) and coached Sara Henrichs (1999), both of whom were named the NCAA South Carolina Woman of the Year.
The Spartans have also excelled in the classroom during Calloway’s tenure. Upstate has been recognized with the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award five times since moving to Division I. The award is given to a team with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.30 or higher during the academic year. Lindsay Richardson became the first Spartan under Calloway to be named CoSIDA Academic All-District as she was recognized on the District 3 Second Team in 1996. Amber Glass followed in 2004 as she earned District 3 Third Team accolades.
A native of Aviston, Ill., Calloway played one season under current Upstate head softball coach Chris Hawkins in 1994 where she appeared in 42 matches and 137 sets. She compiled 1463 assists, 204 digs, 142 kills, 73 service aces and 18 total blocks as a setter. Calloway averaged close to 11 assists per set while tallying a hitting percentage of .320. Her 1463 assists rank second all-time for a season at Upstate, just three behind leader Erin Kopec who played for Calloway from 2000-03. Calloway also ranks fifth in assists per set during a season and sixth in service aces.
Calloway earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from USC Upstate in 1995.
She and her husband, Brad, have two sons, Joel (22) and Nathan (14), and one daughter, Jenna (12).