Staff Spotlight: Robyn Daugherty

Staff Spotlight: Robyn Daugherty

By Jay Nickel
5/17/2022 10:45:00 PM

Robyn Daugherty ’85, director of athletics since 2006, has been on staff at JBU since 1989 when she began her 20-year tenure as head volleyball coach. From 1989-2009, Daugherty amassed over 400 victories, making her the all-time winningest coach in John Brown athletics history. Her teams captured four conference championships, including a pair of Sooner Athletic regular season crowns in 2000 and 2006, while claiming two SAC tournament titles in 2004 and 2005. She was named one of four NAIA Athletic Directors of the Year in 2018 and was awarded SAC Athletic Director of the Year in 2020.

 

What influenced you to attend JBU as a student-athlete?

I wanted to continue to play sports in college and was interested in a Christian school that was in a different area of the country. After finding JBU's ad in a Campus Life magazine, I came on a visit and loved the team and the school. When I learned I would be able to continue competing in volleyball and softball, it sealed the deal.


What are some life principles you learned as a student-athlete at JBU to be used as a student and for after you graduated?

Living in a community with Christians was something I had never experienced nor thought much about before coming here. The relationships I formed while at JBU as a student were life-giving. I grew in my faith at JBU and met so many influential people on and off campus. I saw faith being lived out daily – not just on Sundays. I learned the importance of Jesus Christ as the foundation for everything in my life (unless He builds the house, we labor in vain). Athletics teaches responsibility, loyalty, the importance of team – not me, resiliency and hard work.


What did you enjoy the most about being a student-athlete at JBU, and what were some of the biggest challenges about being a college athlete?

I loved being able to play both softball and volleyball while at JBU. My teammates in both sports were terrific friends, and I also had the opportunity to be coached by Jennifer King (now King-Soderquist) and Bob Gustavson (softball). As someone who played multiple sports in high school, and played volleyball at a junior college prior to JBU, I was used to the importance of time management and not having much free time, so playing two sports at JBU didn't seem "out of the norm." Studying on the road in vans/cars was difficult, and I am not coherent after midnight – so studying was a challenge.


What persuaded you to become a volleyball coach at the collegiate level? And what made you want to start your career at JBU?

My degree was in physical education K-12, thinking I would teach and coach at a high school. I graduated in December and no teaching jobs were available; so I went to work at DaySpring Cards, which began a 15-year career there. I officiated in my spare time and stayed connected at JBU. When the job came open in 1989, I was able to take it on a part-time basis while keeping my full-time job at DaySpring. While it was a busy 10 years doing both jobs, I eventually chose to move full time to JBU. I learned SO MUCH at DaySpring, which prepared me for the AD role – even though at that time, being an AD was not on my career path.

What were some of the most rewarding aspects of coaching at the collegiate level and at JBU specifically?

The relationships with my student-athletes were the highlight of coaching! I loved seeing them grow and mature over their four years at JBU, and having a front-seat view to this was very rewarding and encouraging. The conversations in the van and on the bus, the international team mission trips to Central America, the highs and lows of wins and losses, and the many trips to their weddings are all special memories that I cherish.


What are some valuable lessons you learned from your time coaching?

Culture and foundation are keys to life – whether at work or at home. I learned the importance of building our program on Christ. It wasn't about me or any of the players. The focus had to stay on Jesus. If that foundation was compromised, all we did would be in vain. Another important takeaway is being a coach takes A LOT of time and energy – away from friends, family and personal life. I wouldn't trade my time for anything, but walking through those 20 years of coaching helps me better understand the struggles of the coaches I work with daily. I think it has really shaped me in servant leadership. I want to lead well, but more importantly, I want to serve well.


Twenty years coaching at one university is quite an achievement. What influenced you to coach volleyball at JBU for that long?

My love for JBU and my love for coaching here was, and is, so strong that I never thought twice about going anywhere else. I have been blessed to work at two different organizations with Christ as the foundation – JBU and Dayspring Cards. My time at both places allowed me different opportunities and responsibilities, so I continued to learn and grow and be grateful for what I have and what I get to be a part of everyday.

 

As the JBU volleyball coach, you amassed 400 victories, won SAC championships, had ten 20-win seasons and was named SAC Coach of the Year three times. What influenced you to leave all of that success on the hardwood for the position of director of athletics in 2006?

When I began the AD job in 2006, the agreement was that I could keep coaching until either myself or my boss felt I couldn't continue doing both well. A huge blessing from the Lord came into my life in 2008 – my husband! After two seasons of volleyball and being AD, and being Mrs. Daugherty, I knew it was time to choose to focus on either volleyball or administration. This was when the hard decision came. Stepping away from the daily interactions with my student-athletes was very hard, but I knew it was time to focus on one position and focus on my new family.


What are some of the roles you enjoy the most from your role as director of athletics?

Game management allows me to see our student-athletes compete and see our coaches lead. Special events like spirit days, the TP Game, First Friday Futbol, Hall of Fame Induction and Athletic Awards Night require a lot of detailed planning – but I enjoy the challenge and love the reward of seeing joy in our students and fans. I also love the business side of this job. I enjoy working numbers on budgets, expenses, financial aid and new-program proposals.


Over the last decade, the average GPA of student-athletes at JBU matches the average GPA for nonstudent-athletes, and in 2021, a record 122 JBU student- athletes were named to the SAC Commissioner’s Honor Roll which requires a minimum 3.0 GPA during the previous academic year. What do you attribute all of this success in the classroom to at JBU?

All these accolades go to our student-athletes! They are amazing at balancing academics and athletics. We are blessed by the hard work from all of our student-athletes. All of our coaches understand that academics is important – their annual evaluation has a section regarding academic performance. We want our student-athletes to be students first. That's not easy to do, but our coaches keep that at the forefront of their minds as we recruit students.

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