BUTTE — The decision to step down was not an easy one for Jeni Hope.
"I'm crushed," Hope said during a phone interview on Thursday. "I'm saddened and disappointed. But it was necessary."
Following a two-year run of guiding the Bulldogs — including a turnaround 2019 season that saw Butte post a winning record and advance to the State AA Tournament for the first time in 13 years — Hope submitted her resignation on Tuesday following a coaching evaluation in which she and administrator were "unable to see eye to eye."
The Bulldogs finished with a 13-11 record during Hope's final season.
She broke the news to her returning JV and varsity players during a two-hour meeting at her house on Wednesday where she said there was "a lot of emotion and tears."
"I told them that it had nothing to do with them and that I would always be in their corner," Hope said.
While she was still grappling with her decision to resign on Thursday, she was able to reflect back with a positive outlook on the time she had had with her team and the progress they had made, culminating in a memorable year that saw both Butte High and Butte Central end playoff droughts and advance to state.
"It was such an amazing boost for this town," she said. "It was a wonderful experience. This team meant so much to me."
A 1998 Butte High graduate, Hope attended Montana Western where she played volleyball for two seasons under Jenny Peterson before an injury sidelined her during her sophomore season. She took a medical redshirt the following season and the tore her ACL upon returning.
She went on to graduate from Western in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in business before spending time in Texas and Washington teaching and coaching volleyball until returning to Butte in 2011.
Hope will continue working for Butte High, where she teaches business classes and yearbook.
Butte now turns its attention to hiring its third volleyball coach in four seasons. Hope took over in 2018, following a two-year run from Katrina Berg.