14A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 30, 2006
It wasn't the normal job interview.
You could call it unexpected job training.
When Jennifer Gandolph traveled from
her family's home in Indiana to interview
for a job as the assistant volleyball coach at the
University of New Orleans in early July, Hurri-
cane Cindy delayed her flight and knocked out
the university's electricity.
She accepted the job a week later, but later
described the situation surrounding her interview as
a "total mess."
This "total mess" foreshadowed Gandolph's first
year out of college at the University of New Orleans
- though she hasn't actually spent much time at her
Just a month after Gandolph, the Michigan vol-
leyball program's all-time leader in kills and digs,
moved to New Orleans at the end of August, Hur-
ricane Katrina struck.
Luckily, Gandolph and the New Orleans volley-
ball program escaped unharmed.
The Privateers started their season in a tournament
at Southeast Louisiana in Hammond, La. - just an
hour's drive from New Orleans. Instead of staying
in Hammond, the team decided to commute to its
After winning both its games on Aug. 26, the team
traveled back to New Orleans for the night. The play-
ers and coaches heard warnings of the impending
storm and were told to evacuate. The next morning,
the team met on the third floor of a parking structure
near the local Target.
The Greenwood, Ind., native had limited experi-
ence with hurricanes and relied on her more expe-
rienced peers for guidance. She followed their
advice and packed four days of clothes and her photo
The team carpooled to Hammond for the tourna-
By Ian Robinson ! Daily Sports Writer
ment. Little did Gandolph know that she wouldn't see
New Orleans for another five months.
After winning both games on Saturday, many of
the players went to stay with family or teammates.
Gandolph and head coach Dana Launey took imme-
diate refuge in Baton Rouge at the home of Louisiana
State's head volleyball coach, Fran Flory, along with
three other families. The house was protected with
boarded-up windows and a generator.
Using her cell phone for phone calls and text mes-
sages, Gandolph was able to stay in contact with her
family and keep them aware of her location.
After four days in Baton Rouge, the storm passed
and Gandolph decided to drive back to Indiana and
wait until she could return to New Orleans.
When Gandolph got home, she thought she would
be called back to New Orleans within days. So her
mother prepared a big family meal for that Sunday
Nobody expected the impromptu feast, but at the
time, nothing could've been better.
"Everybody (who was in town got) together,
because it had been a long time since everybody was
together," Jennifer's mother Ann said. "We are still
having family dinners on Sunday nights. It kind of
started as a Katrina tradition with whoever (was)
Jennifer wasn't the only Gandolph affected by
this year's hurricane season. Because of Hurricane
Wilma, one of Jennifer's older brothers lost his job in
Florida and moved back to Indiana two weeks later.
In the meantime, Gandolph didn't receive word on
when she could return to New Orleans.
"It went from a day-to-day thing to a week-to-
week thing," she said.
As it became clear that the season would be can-
celled and she would be home for a few months, Gan-
dolph combined visiting former college teammates
in the Midwest with recruiting for the Privateers.
Since the NCAA granted the entire team a red-
shirt season, Gandolph limited her recruiting to high
"It was more just showing my face and letting
people know that we are still a school and have a pro-
gram," Gandolph said.
She also found time to visit Ann Arbor five times
to watch Michigan play.
"It was neat that I could see them play," Gandolph
said. "I'll never get to see them play again, since we'll
Since the University of New Orleans continued to
pay her salary, Gandolph couldn't take another job
while at home. She busied herself with her young
niece and nephew and assisted in her mother's ele-
mentary school gym classes.
After months of playing the waiting game, Gan-
dolph finally learned that she would have to report to
work on Jan. 3. Her apartment was unharmed, except
for the refrigerator she would need to replace.
After handling administrative tasks, the coaching
staff was just as eager to take to the court as the play-
"It's a breath of fresh air to be doing what we like
to do most with our job, which is coaching," Launey
said. "(The players) have been very anxious to get
the uniform on and have the officials blow the whis-
tle. Even though spring doesn't count to our overall
record, it will mean something to us."
The Privateers couldn't have picked a more appro-
priate opponent to start the spring exhibition season.
They beat cross-town rival Tulane in four games in
their first match last weekend. New Orleans also lost
to Southern Miss later in the day.
"We haven't played in seven months," Gandolph
said. "This is our year wrapped up in the four weeks
we get to play"
Jennifer Gandolph starred on the Michigan volleyball team for four years as an outside hitter.
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