New Polk State Head Volleyball Coach motivated by program’s proud legacy

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

Jessica Beal knows she has large shoes to fill, but that’s part of what motivates her to succeed.

Beal, 27, began her tenure as Head Coach of Polk State Volleyball this week. She spent the last two seasons at Ottawa University, an NAIA program in Kansas.

“I want to win,” Beal said. “Obviously this program has been extremely successful. I want to preserve Polk State’s place as one of the top programs in the nation. I want to help players move on to (NCAA) Division I and high Division II programs and to have them represent Polk State with pride.”

Beal will be taking over for a program that finished nationally ranked and third in the FCSAA/NJCAA Region 8 last season. Over the last 13 years, the Eagles have reached the national NJCAA Tournament seven times, which included a third-place finish in 2016 and a fourth-place finish in 2019.

“Region 8 is a great region – probably the best in the nation – and it will be a great challenge,” Beal said. “I’ve always enjoyed working with freshmen and sophomores. I want to help them get to a higher level.”

A native of Pittsburgh, Beal was a two-sport athlete at Seton Hill University, an NCAA Division II program in Pennsylvania. A middle hitter for the volleyball team, she was also a thrower for the track and field team, competing in the discus, hammer throw, and shot put.

“I’m excited for the energy and enthusiasm that Coach Beal brings to our volleyball program and athletics department,” said Stanley Cromartie, Director of Athletics. “She knows the standard is high here and she’s incredibly motivated to get the job done.”

As an assistant at Ottawa, Beal helped the Braves reach the national NAIA Tournament in 2022. That season, Ottawa finished with a record of 24-9 and ranked No. 22 in the final NAIA Poll. She’ll be a collegiate head coach for the first time.

“I like how fast-paced this game is and all the challenges it brings,” Beal added. “I’ve grown a lot every place I’ve lived and at every place I’ve coached. I’m most proud of my growth.”

Beal has also served as an assistant coach for Kansas City Power, a club team, head coach at Tallahassee Volleyball Academy, and as an assistant for Florida State University High School’s varsity team and as head coach for its junior varsity team. She was first hired by Sheila Roberts, Coach Mentor at Tallahassee Volleyball Academy and Head Coach at Florida State University High School.

“She got my foot in the door, so I’m forever going to be grateful for that,” Beal said. “I’ve had a lot of great mentors along the way.”

During her time at Seton Hill, Beal played in 85 career matches before earning her bachelor’s degree in early childhood and special education in 2018. She recently completed her Master of Elementary Unified from Ottawa University.

As part of a Citrus Conference that includes national champion Florida SouthWestern State College and national runner-up Miami Dade College, Beal is excited for the challenge. Last season, five of the conference’s eight teams finished nationally ranked.

“(Cromartie) has been very personable and supportive,” Beal concluded. “It’s going to be challenging to uphold and surpass what this program has accomplished before. Continuing this tradition is very important to me.”