After three-plus decades of championship banners and state tournament appearances, the Jackie Carel era has come to a close at Enumclaw High School.
The veteran coach had announced at the beginning of the fall season that this year – her 36th at the Hornet helm – would be her last. Her lengthy tenure at the top of the school’s volleyball program fittingly came to a close at the Class 2A state tournament in Yakima.
Carel made a conscious decision to let it be known, from the outset, that this fall would end her coaching run. “It allowed me to say goodbye to so many people,” she said, referring to the friends, fans and coaching peers she has come to know.
Speaking of her coaching comrades, not everyone can handle 36 years in a position that has grown to include year-round responsibilities.
“I’ve seen a lot of people come and go,” Carel said. “Coaching is a lot of work, a lot of work all year long.”
A Renton native and 1981 graduate of Renton High, Carel came to Enumclaw following graduation from Western Washington University. With a teaching degree in hand she settled in at Westwood Elementary where she has taught for 38 years (and will continue to teach).
She also arrived in Enumclaw with an impressive volleyball resume that included two state championships at Renton and four years on the WWU varsity squad, where she had transitioned from hitter to setter.
Enumclaw has been home since. It’s where she met Rick, a teacher and coach who became her husband and for many years an assistant volleyball coach. Enumclaw also is where the couple raised two children, Riley and Richelle, both EHS graduates.
Longtime coaches often struggle with the decision to retire, but Carel is confident she made the correct decision at the correct time. “There comes a point where it just feels right,” she said. “It was the right time.”