Jason Leppo has had a remarkable amount of success in his 10 years at the helm of the Delone Catholic girls’ volleyball program.
He’s won 206 games, a 2013 PIAA state title, five District championships, four league titles and an astonishing 10 division crowns.
That’s why when he announced his intention to step down from the role earlier this week, it came as a surprise to many. For Leppo, however, the timing just made sense.
“I think the biggest factor is that I started a new job in January, switching careers and fields and looking at my schedule and trying to figure out the time for it, it just didn’t work out,” he said. “It’s not just the practice time, it’s the drive to and from the school and the planning that goes into it and the bus rides. It’s a big investment. I could maybe make it work, but I would know that I wasn’t putting my all into it like I had been in the past.”
The 35-year-old Leppo, who previously worked as the volleyball director and arena manager at Ballyhoo Volleyball Club in York, left that position in January to become a project manager for a company that overseas charter schools across the nation. While he intends to remain involved on the club side of volleyball coaching, he says he’ll be stepping back there as well and expects the move will help bring better balance to his life.
“The plan is to still say involved in that and still do that,” he said. “One of the biggest things for me within the last couple months was just recognizing that I want to find better balance between my personal life, my work life and volleyball.”
That investment in volleyball has not been without its rewards for Leppo. On top of the obvious accolades, the impact he’s made on the program has resonated from his first teams to his last.
“I’ve played for Coach Leppo since I was in eighth grade and I’ve always been really excited to play for him and always sort of associated him with Delone volleyball even since I was young,” current player and Delone junior Maggie Hughes said. “He’s an amazing coach and teaches you a lot of life lessons because it’s about much more than volleyball. While we work hard on volleyball, he’s always talking about how we can become better people and better teammates to one another.”
Hughes added that Leppo’s philosophy has helped him earn the trust of each of his players.
“It’s so much easier to play for him when you know he cares about you as more than just a player,” she said. “Him trusting me out on the court means a lot because I know he won’t put me in a situation where he doesn’t feel I can succeed.”
In addition to his players, Leppo has earned the respect of his fellow coaches in the area, not the least of which is longtime rival John Barrick of fellow D3 powerhouse Trinity.
“Delone was the bar we were trying to reach at Trinity since the moment I became coach 10 years ago,” Barrick said. “Delone has been as good anyone in the state of Pennsylvania.”
Additionally, Barrick says that the area high school volleyball scene now has a hole to fill with Leppo no longer involved.
“The origin of the word competition means to ‘rise together’ and I can honestly say he drove me and my staff to get better every day if we were going to be able to even compete against his team,” Barrick said. “He will be sorely missed and he is a true friend.”
While Leppo hasn’t ruled out a future return to high school coaching, he says he doesn’t envision one on the horizon.
“I think that the plan is not to coach in high school, but the plan at this time last year wasn’t to be walking away from Delone, so plans change, life changes,” he said. “But if I ever coach high school again that means I’ve found a much better balance for me and figured out my priorities better to be able to make that work.”
Clay Sauertieg can be reached at email@example.com