Orie Returns to her Home Court

Jacob Eischen, writer

University of Texas middle blocker and Oak Park alumnae Orie Agbaji stepped back onto the volleyball court, but no longer as a player, as a coach.

Agbaji had no plans of coming back home to Kansas City after she graduated from university. She fell in love with Austin while playing in Texas. Until… she started to miss the game.

“Orie started to think about coaching there, but just did not have loyalty to a club or high school,” said varsity head coach Candace McCall

Agbaji moved back to Missouri after her time at the University of Texas. Agbaji searched for available job opportunities in Austin but found herself longing for more volleyball. McCall and Agbaji kept in close contact while Agbaji was away at university. McCall was thrilled to her of Agbaji’s return and interest in coaching.

“To have her back, is like having a family member back,” McCall said.

It feels like I’m back at home and I am loving being here. It’s like I never left.”

— assistant volleyball coach Orie Agbaji

Agbaji has a coaching role for the Lady Oakies volleyball team this season after playing Division 1 volleyball. The 2019 college graduate is now working side-by-side with her high school coach.

“She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience,” McCall said.

As the youngest coach at practice, at only 25 years old, players have quickly bonded with Agbaji. Agbaji often jokes with players and they all poke fun at each other. Agbaji will hop into team scrimmages occasionally and is always ready to hype up her team.

“I just hope that I bring light, energy, and positivity every time I’m in the gym and that everybody is getting 1% better,” Agbaji said.

Coaching is a whole different skill compared to playing and Agbaji admits that it’s been a tough transition from being a player to coach. Agbaji has always been a star player in high school and in university. She said that watching from the sidelines can be difficult.

“I’ve learned to be patient and really taught how to talk through the game,” Agbaji said.

Agbaji knows when to get down to business and is always ready to instruct and make the team better. The Division 1 coaching she received at University of Texas for her hitting has transferred over into her coaching. In hitting lines, Agbaji will give extremely detailed advice and gets deep into her coaching position.

“It feels great to be able to get technical advice, and to be told what we need to do and when we need to do it, varsity player senior Morgan Rogers said. “And having someone who is very experienced recently in the game is good.”

Agbaji has had a positive return to Oak Park and makes an impact as a coach. The players and coaches are thrilled to have her back.

“It feels really good to be back,” Agbaji said. “It feels like I’m back at home and I am loving being here. It’s like I never left.”