UTSA Spotlight: Laura Groff inducted into Jefferson High School hall of fame
By Omar Hernandez
Public Affairs Specialist
(Dec. 2, 2008)--Laura Groff, UTSA volleyball head coach, recently was honored by her high school alma mater as part of the first class of inductees into the Thomas Jefferson High School Hall of Fame. The initial class included professional athletes, astronauts, hero soldiers, judges and philanthropists.
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With such impressive peers from Thomas Jefferson High in San Antonio, it's no wonder Groff has accomplished so much in her journey, which includes the prizes of best all-around athlete at Jefferson, a scholarship to UT Austin and All-American while at UT Austin. She also represented UT at the Sports Festival in Colorado Springs, was a member of the World University Games team in Japan and played professionally in Germany and Chicago. She then went on to coach high school and college teams, and now she is head volleyball coach at UTSA.
"This is where it all started," says Groff. "I took a lot of pride in athletics and my academics too. It was just neat -- I just loved high school."
While in high school, Groff says she avoided the pitfalls of parties and drinking to focus on being a student and an athlete. She credits her coaches for mentoring her and helping her stay on the right path. In her senior year she received the Tommy Nobis Award, which goes to the best all-around athlete, male or female. Tommy Nobis, a former NFL player also from Thomas Jefferson, was inducted into the school's hall of fame along with Groff.
However, like any high school student, Groff was susceptible to the temptations of mischief.
"I was fascinated by the dome," she remembers. "After football games, if the dome was lit red we won the game, and if it was lit blue we lost. My goal was to get up to that thing, and I tried everything I could to climb to the top, but I never got up there."
After high school, Groff accepted a scholarship to play at UT Austin where she was an all-American team captain for the Longhorns and helped guide Texas to four Southwest Conference Championships. She was a member of the National Sports Festival in 1983 and participated in the World University Games in Japan in 1985. In 1992, Groff was named to the Southwest Conference All-Decade Team.
Groff graduated from UT Austin and continued to play professionally in Germany before joining the Chicago Breeze professional volleyball team in 1988. She then shifted her focus from honing her skills to helping others hone theirs.
Groff says she began coaching to give back what her coaches taught her and to help make young women the best volleyball players they can be.
Groff began her coaching career at Hondo High School before joining Texas A&M University from 1990 to 1992. She then moved to St. Mary's University before being named head coach at UTSA in 2002.
Groff has experienced more than most, and while a room full of young faces concentrates on her, like any good coach and great teammate, she is focused on them.
"I hope they know how lucky they are to go to school here," says Groff. "There is so much tradition and pride at this school that I just hope they understand how special it really is to be a graduate of Jefferson High School."