Senior staff writer
Having experienced Hurricane Katrina, good food and marriage, Jennifer Gandolph Hawk was a Southern girl for 11 years before returning to the Southside.
The former Center Grove High School and University of Michigan volleyball standout ventured south in 2005.
She would coach at the University of New Orleans, Georgia, Samford and Archbishop Chappelle High School, also in New Orleans.
“It gets hot here (Indiana), but the heat down there is pretty rough,” she said. “I enjoyed crawfish, jambalaya, gumbo and po’ boys down there.”
Katrina hit in late August 2005, shortly after Hawk was named an assistant coach at UNO. She left before the hurricane hit, drove to Baton Rouge, La., and stayed there for four days before driving home to the Southside. Safe from harm, her relieved parents, Dave and Ann Gandolph, welcomed her for four months before returning to the South.
“It was a blur,” she recalled of Katrina. “I didn’t really understand the preparation for hurricanes. I just grabbed a small bag, threw in a couple of things and ended up home.”
UNO did not reopen until December of that year.
Hawk then coached at two Southern universities after UNO dropped their athletic programs from Division 2 down to D3. The programs have returned to D1 status.
She married Garrett Hawk, a U.S. Marshal; they have a daughter, Skylar, 18 months.
Hawk began networking when her husband learned he was being transferred to Indianapolis. They arrived in August.
She eventually landed three different opportunities: coach of Indy Elite boys volleyball club, girls volleyball coach at Perry Meridian High School and Orangetheory Fitness, 1675 W. Smith Valley Road, Greenwood.
Each position fits her education and experiences in physical fitness, coaching and management.
At Orangetheory she will manage the fitness studio, personnel and scheduling but importantly make sure all patrons are satisfied with the high-intensity interval training they undergo.
“I want to make sure that the members are happy here,” she said. “This immediately peaks my interest in fitness. Training and conditioning have been a part of my life forever. After college I knew I had to work out to stay healthy and that’s when I developed my passion for fitness. This industry is one that I can enjoy.”
Hawk admitted, “The timing of everything that has happened has worked out very nicely, but I know April and May are going to be nuts.”
She expects to meet with returning and new Falcons volleyball players after succeeding Pat Carlson, who stepped down for health reasons. She takes over a successful program that won six sectional titles in the last 10 years, 21 overall sectional trophies, two regional titles and a state finals appearance in 1986.
“I have inherited a really good group,” she said. “Pat was there for nine years and put the program on the map. I’m sure we have difference coaching styles.”
Hawk revealed that she is a teacher/coach who progresses slowly by explaining drills, having a fast-paced practice, scouting opponents and teaching each player how to react to certain match situations.
“I want them to learn, understand and love the sport,” said Hawk, who is a record setter too.
At Center Grove she led the Trojans to the 2000 state championship. She led Michigan to three NCAA playoffs and set school records with 1,562 kills and 1,381 digs. She coached Chapelle to three state tournament appearances and was 124-76 during five seasons.
She returns to the Southside and will be close to her parents and brothers: David, a 1988 graduate of Center Grove, who is a financial adviser to teachers; Dan, Class of ’93, owns a financial consulting business; and Tom, Class of ’95, is a firefighter with the Indianapolis Fire Department.
“I never thought that I would live back here just because of my husband’s job,” Hawk said, “It was simply random where we would land … hard to believe I’m back.”
Her father and former Center Grove teacher and baseball coach stopped by the Greenwood-Center Grove baseball game Friday. He expressed disbelief but pride that all four grown children finally are living in the area.