By Don Lowe

As Joplin High School Lady Eagles first-year volleyball Head Coach Emily Killion gets her chance to lead a team, she’s understandably thrilled. 

“I’m excited to see where this program can go and how we can grow together,” Killion says. “The girls and I will have a continuous learning journey.” 

Killion says she “gained a couple years’ experience being an assistant coach at McDonald County High School. Before that, I got experience volunteering at my high school in Wheaton,” which made the timing perfect to join the Joplin team. 

“Running my own program has been my goal, and moving to Joplin was a sign for me. It all worked out the way it’s supposed to be. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.” 

Killion has been fortunate to have so many influential individuals along the way, such as Robert Creekmore, her high school volleyball head coach during her junior and senior years. 

“He developed me into a player I never thought was possible. He’s one of my mentors. He gave me the opportunity to coach and is someone I can turn to for advice on coaching. 

“Mark Skapin, my college softball head coach, is also someone I looked up to. I’ve gotten a lot of my organization and style from him. He pushed me as a player, helped me grow as a person and provided me so many opportunities athletically and in life. I still talk to him about everything.” 

Another mentor is Marla Kannaday Foreman, Killion’s college volleyball head coach. “She developed me as a player. She helped me grow as a person through her faith. I respect her so much.” 

Killion knows the greatest backing has always been with her parents, Shawn and Michele Killion, who’ve been with her every step of the way. “They’ve been my biggest support system. I owe them everything. Without them, I would not be where I am or who I am today.” 

Having a sister and brother in her corner as well is comforting for Killion, and she says, “Sarah Abernathy and Connor Killion are my best friends. I can turn to them for anything. They always give me the best advice. I’m so thankful to have them in my life, as I am for my boyfriend, Jordan Walton. He has stood firmly alongside me as I have pursued my career path. He has been patient and supportive. He knows this is my passion. And I’m grateful for him and his constant support.” 

Although she’s just getting started, Killion already has a crystal-clear vision. “I expect my players to come in each day ready to give 100%. I expect positivity all the time. We have no room for negativity on the court or in our program. 

“I expect them to go hard at practice and be open-minded to the things that we, the coaching staff, ask them to do. We are going to challenge them. I expect them to attend class regularly and keep their grades up. They are student-athletes, and school is first. 

“I expect them to act respectfully on the court, in the classroom and when we are traveling. We want to represent our school, program and community as best we can and leave a legacy for those to come after us.” 

Joplin Lady Eagles Volleyball Head Coach Emily Killion Fast Facts

Age: 25

Parents: Shawn and Michele Killion

Siblings: Brothers Cody Weatherman (deceased) and Tanner Weatherman, sister Sarah Abernathy and brother Connor Killion.

Hometown: Wheaton, Missouri

High School Alma Mater: Wheaton High School, 2017.

College Alma Mater: Cottey College, Nevada, Missouri, 2022.

College Degrees: Bachelor of Arts (Psychology), Bachelor of Arts (Criminology) and Minor (Fitness Education).

Coaching Career: Volunteer coach at Wheaton (summers between college 2018-2021), assistant high school volleyball coach at McDonald County, assistant junior high softball coach at McDonald County and special education teacher at McDonald County.

Favorite Food: Mexican

Favorite Sports Movies: “Remember the Titans,” “Coach Carter” and “Benchwarmers.”

Favorite Professional or Collegiate Athlete: Jocelyn Alo, an American professional softball player for the Oklahoma City Spark, who also played with the University of Oklahoma Sooners.