Two decades of success

LHS’s only soccer coach in program history to resign
By 
Chris Mcconnell
Thursday, January 21, 2021
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Head Coach Aloma Jess (far right) is resigning from her position as Head Soccer Coach after 20 years and four State Championships. Long–time assistant Valerie Nauman (left) also resigned after 17 years with the program. The 2021 Lady Loco senior class are (back row): Kadee Grammar, Sierra Branstetter, Maeson Cotter, Teigan Harper and Gracey Willis. Front row: Morgan Maack, Kolby Gibbs, Allison Shovar Courtesy photo

Laurel High School Lady Loco Soccer Coach Aloma Jess announced her resignation on Jan. 11. She leaves the program as the only girls coach in program history since the inaugural season in 1999.

During her two–decade tenure at Laurel, Jess led the Lady Locos to four Class A State Championships in 2014, 2017, 2019 and 2020, and four 2nd place trophies, including appearances in the State Championship game the past seven years in a row. This year’s senior class won three State titles and took second once over their impressive four–year careers, including a cumulative record of 50–5–3.

Coach Jess was voted Coach of the Year in 2019 and 2020 by the Montana High School Coaches Association and received the United Soccer Coaches Regional Coach of the Year in 2017 and United Soccer State Coach of the Year in 2019 and 2020.

In a letter to Superintendent Linda Filpula and Activities Director Dominick Vergara, Jess said:

“I am officially and respectfully resigning as the Head Girls’ Soccer Coach. This is not a negative reflection of the great experience I have had here at Laurel in my 20 years as the Varsity Soccer coach or my previous experiences coaching Middle School Basketball and Middle School and High School Track and Field. I have had outstanding support from administration and fellow coaches in the system. I also appreciate the parents of my players who over the years have been very good about releasing their daughters to the system and allowing us to do our jobs to the best of our abilities.

“This is not a sudden decision as I have contemplated my exit for a few years but I wanted to see this Senior class through to Graduation. As you can imagine, every year there is a special class that I want to see through to Graduation, and still do, but I feel it is time to move on to other opportunities. I also believe that the strong soccer program must be allowed to develop to the next level with knowledgeable and capable coaches with the fire and passion required to do so.

“It is never easy to let go of a successful program with such talented and committed players. They have given me so many great memories that I will cherish forever. I want to especially thank all of the Laurel soccer girls going back to the beginning 1999 season through the 2013 season for laying the groundwork for the 2014-2020 Runner Up and Championship teams. I also have tremendous gratitude for my Assistant Coach, Valerie Nauman [also resigning her position after 17 years], who supported me and the soccer program for 17 years. Our success is shared with the tremendous support of the community and many dedicated parents.”

Superintendent Filpula offered words of support and congratulations to the outgoing coach.

“Aloma has done an exceptional job as our first head coach for girls soccer. Through her steady and strong leadership, she developed a powerhouse program that consistently performed well. She has touched many lives and will be greatly missed! We wish her the BEST!”

Coach Jess concluded her letter by saying, “Again, thank you for such a successful coaching career and memories!”

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