New Athletic Director Lisa Montgomery returns to West Orange High School, while newcomer Jordan Hefner takes over the school’s volleyball program.
The campus of West Orange High School has been quiet since it shut its doors months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the perceived calm, the Warrior athletic department is making moves, including two new hirings.
Lisa Montgomery returns to the halls of WOHS — where she will serve the role of athletic director — while former High Point University volleyball standout Jordan Hefner will take over the school’s volleyball program.
“It’s been a whirlwind — between saying goodbye at Edgewater and people finding out that I was leaving, and just getting started with coaches at West Orange,” Montgomery said. “It’s just been crazy. The day Matt (Turner) announced it, I have been getting phone calls ever since — it’s been nonstop.”
With changes in administration, Hefner spent a lot of time in the dark waiting to hear back, meaning she got a bit of a late start, she said.
“It’s going through emails, talking with people who I’m going to tournaments with — making sure they’re still hosting tournaments — and just getting practice plans … and when are tryouts going to be,” Hefner said. “This past week has been a little hectic.”
For the last year, Montgomery served as the AD at Edgewater High School, but before that, she spent almost five years at WOHS where she served as a physical education instructor, assistant AD, track coach and weightlifting coach.
Leaving Edgewater was incredibly tough, but her time at West Orange made the transition worth pursuing, she said.
“I had a great rapport with the faculty and staff there,” Montgomery said.c
The Edgewater job for Montgomery, who has worked in Orange County Public Schools since 2000, was her first full-time role as an athletic director and different than when she served as an assistant at both Wekiva and WOHS.
She found herself at the top of the department, which meant new management responsibilities, such as working with the entire staff and evaluating the condition of the football field on game days.
“It was just more of the management of the entire staff — having to juggle things when they come up,” Montgomery said. “There are days where things can go exceptionally smoothly, and there’s days that things happen and you have to work fast. It was a lot of situational things that just happen, and you just have to stop what you’re doing and go handle them.”
Unlike Montgomery, Hefner stepped into her role with having never coached at the high school level.
Hefner has been coaching at her old club — Orlando Tampa Volleyball Academy — for a while but decided she also wanted the chance to coach a different kind of volleyball.
“I am super excited,” Hefner said. “Throughout this whole quarantine thing, I was really nervous about what I wanted to do, and this opportunity came to me. I was already coaching girls who were 16 or 17 years of age, and so I was just like, ‘You know what? I’m ready to take it to the next step and do high school and see what it’s all about.’ And I already knew some of the girls and they’re awesome, so I got pretty lucky.”
“At the end of the day, you’re looking for that support and that camaraderie … so going back to West Orange — again with those relationships — it was an easy thought.”
— Lisa Montgomery
Along with knowing the girls, Hefner also knows volleyball with a passion.
Hefner got into the game as a child — thanks to wanting to be better than her older sister, who played the sport — and throughout the years progressed to the point where she became an integral part of the High Point University volleyball team. At middle, she broke the all-time season blocking record as a sophomore in 2016 with 143 in a single season and led the Panthers to three NCAA tournaments.
With her graduation from High Point in 2019, Hefner decided to get into coaching at the club level, which ultimately is what led her to taking on her new role at West Orange.
Working with a tight timeframe — student-athletes will start workouts July 6, and the first volleyball game is Aug. 20 — will be challenging, but Hefner hopes her players will be open to all the new things coming their way this year.
“My expectations are to just have a great season and get to — hopefully — states, and have the girls have a good attitude with getting a new coach; I know they haven’t had a steady coach for a while,” Hefner said. “I’m hoping they come in with an open mindset and that they are open to learning new things and be ready to take to take the new season head-on.”