The only girls’ soccer coach Vandegrift has ever had is stepping away from the sport, for now.
Jen Hardy, who won a state title in 2014 and helped the Lady Vipers reach the state tournament last season, said she will not coach at Vandegrift after this season.
“I’m in a space of so little attachment that it makes sense for me to try something,” Hardy said. “I love working here and I love being a part of the Vandegrift family, but I’m at a point in my life where I can go do something different. If I get out and realize it wasn’t right, I can come back (to coaching).”
Hardy said will be shifting her attention to the fashion world now, and wants to travel. She said getting back into coaching is a possibility in the future, and hopes Vandegrift is successful for years to come.
In the three seasons since winning the state title, the Lady Vipers haven’t lost any steam, winning the last three district titles. They’re 59-15-12, including a 2-3-2 mark this season as of Monday afternoon.
Hardy will continue to lead the Lady Vipers for the rest of this season. The search for a new coach won’t begin until the year is over, according to the school.
“I’m 100 percent committed to winning a 6A state championship before I head out,” she said. “That is my intention. I told the girls two weeks ago and they have been very supportive. They all get that my commitment has not shifted in any way.”
On the field, the Lady Vipers have been experimenting with a largely new lineup.
The team that made it to the state semifinals boasted 11 seniors, and a handful of other players left the school soccer program to play at the Development Academy, which requires athletes forgo high school soccer.
“Up to this point, we’ve had a mix of results and they’re very aware of being a new team,” Hardy said. “It’s been a great preseason. The game results might not show that for people that aren’t at the games, but the team has been very great.”
There are 10 seniors on this year’s squad, including Paige Crossman and Grace Andres, who were both named to the All-District Honorable Mention list last season.
Vandegrift has been mainly faced on the defense for the most part in preseason because that’s where it has the least experience, both at the varsity level and players learning new positions.
The Lady Vipers haven’t allowed a goal in their last three games, a pair of 1-0 wins against Plano West and Schertz Clemens follow by a scoreless draw against Round Rock last Thursday night.
The district schedule is just getting started as Vandegrift travels to face Lehman on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and has a road game at Vista Ridge on Jan. 22.
Coming off a state semifinal appearance, a largely new team and a coach in her final season at the school, the goals have not been tempered.
“Being at Vandegrift, there is never a lack of expectations from the community,” Hardy said. “It is not an expectation that has fallen by the wayside for us either. A state title is something they’re aspiring to. That’s just the culture we’ve created here.”