Jenny Buys, a self-described “local-yokel,” is returning to the Peninsula High School coaching ranks after being away for 12 years.
Buys, a special education teacher at PHS, is the new girls soccer coach. She previously coached soccer at the high school, but took a break to take care of her children as they grew up.
“My son is 12 years old, so it seemed like the right time to return,” she said.
Buys, 40, graduated from Peninsula in 1993. While she remained at PHS as a teacher, she coached different club teams and always had a desire to return to coaching high school student-athletes.
“High school sports is what I always wanted to do,” Buys said. “I truly believe high school is a very unique opportunity to represent school, be athletes in a mixed group. It’s always where my passion has lied.”
This year’s Seahawks squad should be a nice fit for the coach. Buys places a big emphasis on conditioning, which could help a team which has struggled recently. Last year’s squad underachieved, posting a 5-11 overall record.
“I’m super excited,” Buys said. “I’m excited to see how the girls come together. I’m really big on fitness and fundamentals. They’ve really responded to those things. I’m excited to see that play out. They’re very fast, which is fun.”
The amount of conditioning has been upped from the previous year, and players have taken notice.
“The girls say to me, ‘We sure run a lot,’” Buys said. “They’re adjusting. I just feel like if you’re not going to be the best skilled team, the fittest team will usually win, when it comes down to it. That’s going to be our best advantage. Having never seen any of the other teams, I have no idea where the girls are going to shake out. But everyone is showing up and working really hard.”
Buys said she fits her system to her players’ skill sets.
“I’m very dynamic in my thinking,” Buys said. “I let the girls tell me how they want to play. I look at what I have and use what we have in the best way we can.”
This year’s group looks to be more defensive-minded, but Buys wants to use some of the speed to attack opposing defenses. Part of that means getting some of the girls out of their comfort zones.
“Eighty percent of the girls will say they’re defensive players,” Buys said. “That’s probably where you’re comfortable, but that’s probably not where you’re going to play for me. What I told the girls is that I always want to see them shine. I’m never going to ask them to play somewhere I don’t think they’re going to be amazing. The more they trust what I see in them, the better we’re going to be.”
While Buys was hesitant to name players who might be poised for a big year before the first game has been played, she mentioned senior midfielder/forward Jolene Kvinsland as a player who has impressed so far.
“She’s certainly very skilled and plays very well.”
Peninsula opens its season Sept. 8 with a 7:30 p.m. home match against Steilacoom.