Jessica Stellmaker ready to put her team building to work as Century's volleyball coach

May 1—ROCHESTER — Jessica Stellmaker is back in a familiar saddle.

She is a head coach again, this time directing the Rochester Century volleyball team.

Stellmaker replaces Nichelle Guillaume, who stepped down in December after six years as the Panthers head person. Stellmaker was her assistant the past two years.

This is familiar territory for Stellmaker. She spent nine seasons as John Marshall's volleyball coach, the last one in 2021.

Stellmaker is pleased to resume that role again, only this time on the northeast side of town.

"I am quite excited," said Stellmaker, who compiled a 140-110 record at John Marshall. "I think being at Century the last couple of years as an assistant helps out. It helped me build a lot of good relationships with the players, and was able to do it without the stigma of being the head coach. To be able to keep growing what we've built will be nice."

Century had solid success under Guillaume, as she finished with a sparkling 108-51 record in her time there, including 17-10 this past season.

Next season might be tougher as Century will have graduated some top-flight talent, including outside hitter Ella Zmolek, libero Kaitlyn Meincke and longtime starting setter Megan Lund.

It leaves Stellmaker with a young team, though one that she says has promise. Among the young players is Stellmaker's daughter, Laney Stellmaker, an eighth-grader and returning starter. Also back is one of the Big Nine Conference's top players, junior outside hitter Ava Decker.

"We lost a lot of good talent from last season," Stellmaker said. "But being young isn't a bad thing. It's going to be a big development year. There are a lot of B-squad players that I am curious to see (move up in the ranks)."

Stellmaker's sweet spot is definitely the development piece. She appreciates bringing along her players both in terms of their volleyball skills and as people.

Stellmaker's day job is at Mayo Clinic where she is a Supervisor in Specimen Operations. It demands that she develop Mayo's employees. Development skills are something she's utilized for a long time, including in her original work as a counselor.

She knows how to team build, and that translates nicely as a coach. It's that team building that inspires her most.

"My job is to develop the skills to fight through adversity and understand how we react to things as human beings," Stellmaker said. "On a team, you don't have to like everybody, but you have to get along with everybody. To have success, we have to build those relationships. We are a family and there is room for everyone, whether you are a starter and the team's best player, or are coming off the bench. Everyone matters."

Jessica becomes the second Century head coach in her family. Her husband, Todd, directs the Panthers baseball team.