DILLON — For the past five years, Katie Lovett proved her aptitude as an assistant volleyball coach at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, North Carolina.
She’ll now have an opportunity to develop a vision as the head coach of Montana Western.
Lovett was formally introduced as the Bulldogs’ 10th volleyball coach at a press conference on Tuesday. She will succeed Brent Lewis who stepped down from the team following the 2018 season to return to his home state of Texas after three years at the helm due to health issues.
Taking the podium wearing a cardigan emblazoned with the university logo she now represents, Lovett expressed gratitude.
“I’m really excited about being the new coach of the Bulldogs,” Lovett said. “I want thank the hiring committee for giving me this opportunity.”
“It’s always been a dream of mine to be a head coach,” Lovett said. “I had a lot of freedom at St. Andrews. I was able to do a lot of stuff with practice, with recruiting. I feel prepared but I’m also very excited to run my own program.”
A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Lovett earned her undergraduate degree at West Virginia University where she was heavily involved with the school’s club volleyball program.
She then pursued her master’s degree at NAIA St. Andrews where she served as a graduate assistant and assistant coach for the women’s volleyball team—the Knights advanced to the NAIA National Tournament in 2016—before accepting the head coaching position at Western.
Lovett was also the men’s volleyball assistant coach for three of those years at St. Andrews with that team qualifying for nationals in 2018.
Her tenure at St. Andrews culminated in her being named the 2018 Appalachian Athletic Conference and AVCA NAIA regional assistant coach of the year.
Success has not come easily to Western’s volleyball program with the Bulldogs being held to less than 10 victories the past two seasons.
For Lovett, the team she is taking over doesn’t know what it’s like to have a tradition of winning. To change that, she needs to change her player’s outlooks.
“The Bulldogs program has not had the best winning history recently,” Lovett conceded. “But I think a lot of that has to do with the mentality. Just being very complacent with what they’ve had. That’s my biggest thing right now is changing the mentality.”
But she also noted that the program she's inherited has a wealth on untapped potential.
“There’s a lot of talent with this roster, there’s good pieces there,” Lovett said. “They’ve already shown that they’re willing to give every bit of effort that they possible can. So I’m excited about that. There’s some good leadership as well.”
Asked about how she's adjusting to life in Dillon, she drew comparisons between Beaverhead County and Laurinburg.
“Community was a big thing that I came from,” Lovett said. “The school was very community-based, family-based and I knew I wanted that somewhere else. The whole town’s been extremely nice. Everybody’s been welcoming.”