CHEYENNE – Jessica Bratton-Vega spent two seasons playing volleyball and basketball at Montana State-Billings before eventually choosing to focus on volleyball.
“I love basketball, but volleyball is my passion,” Bratton-Vega said. “I didn’t want to give up basketball because it always came naturally to me.
“Volleyball was a sport I really had to work hard to be good at, and that’s what I really loved about it.”
Bratton-Vega’s love for volleyball has kept her coaching since she was an 18-year-old. She spent the past 10 seasons as an assistant at Natrona County.
Cheyenne Central is her next stop. She was announced as the school’s new volleyball coach Thursday morning, pending approval from the Laramie County School District 1 trustees.
“This is a great opportunity,” Bratton-Vega said. “Coaching jobs don’t open often at the (Class) 4A level. They’ve had a good program, and if I was going to make the jump, this was going to be the time to do it.
“It was time for a change. I have been here for 10 years, and it was probably time to go somewhere else and take that next step.”
Bratton-Vega replaces Maggie Burns, who stepped down shortly after the 2020 campaign. Burns spent five seasons at Central.
“I’m looking forward to going in there without any preconceived notions and start from square one with everyone,” said Bratton-Vega, who teaches high school math. “I can’t wait to get there and get going because I’m sure the girls are used to playing volleyball right now.”
While Bratton-Vega understands why some athletes choose to specialize in one sport during their high school days, she encourages her players to participate in multiple sports.
“I like athletes who play multiple sports, and I hope that’s something we can really get back to,” Bratton-Vega said.
Central athletics director Chad Whitworth actually coached against Bratton-Vega when she was playing basketball for Natrona. He was always impressed by her athleticism and competitiveness.
“She came across in interviews as really enthusiastic and eager to work,” Whitworth said. “She really wants to be a head coach and has great experience. She wants to build a program, and that’s what we’re looking for.”