Jenna Orlandini, Physical Education Coach and Volleyball Program Director, Finds Her Way Back to Westridge
Westridge has been so special to me because I just see myself in the community. — Jenna Orlandini
Westridge has been so special to me because I just see myself in the community.
— Jenna Orlandini
Los Angeles native Jenna Orlandini, referred to as Coach Jenna by her students, is now an official faculty member at Westridge as a P.E. coach and Volleyball Program Director. Having played collegiate level volleyball at the University of Washington and professionally after college, Orlandini shared that volleyball has always held a special place in her heart. Through coaching, Coach Jenna wants to give the joy that she felt through sports and volleyball back to the students.
Starting at Westridge in 2015 as an Assistant Volleyball Coach, Orlandini felt that something about the school fit her coaching style. She said, “I just thought it was a really special place to be.” At the time, there were no full-time positions at Westridge, so she looked into opportunities available at other schools. She coached at High Point Academy and Polytechnic School, but at a certain point, she felt the need to “spread her wings” and pursue her dream of directing her own high school volleyball program. However, regardless of the directions Orlandini headed in, she always found herself back at Westridge. She left the Westridge Community in 2018 only to come back in 2019, and then she left again in 2021. Now, in 2022, Coach Jenna is officially back in a full-time coaching position for Lower and Upper School P.E.
Coaching has always been something that she has been passionate about. For Coach Jenna, sports is a learning opportunity that strengthens understanding of leadership, teamwork, competition, commitment, and time management. “Coaching has taught me a lot about teaching, and how people learn, and just what physical fitness and teamwork can do in the lives of the youth,” she said.
In high-school, Orlandini attended Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, another all-girls school located in La Cañada. Going to an all-girls school as a student made it easy for her to fall in love with Westridge. “I just like the all-girls aspect of education and learning. I think it’s just that a totally different environment allows you to be yourself and allows you to make mistakes, and you have other people to lean on that are going through a lot of similar experiences, and it’s just a really great environment overall,” Orlandini said.
Orlandini’s family has always been a big part of her love for volleyball; her mother, sister, and cousins all played the sport. Being equipped with natural talent quickly established volleyball as a point of connection for their family. “It’s sort of just been something that we did to spend time together,” Coach Jenna said. Along with volleyball skills, coaching also runs in the family. Orlandini’s mom was also a coach and happened to be Orlandini’s high school coach, and her sister, Samantha Orlandini, coaches the Westridge Junior Varsity volleyball team.
Although her life with and without family may seem to revolve around sports, there is one other person she makes time for: her six-year-old daughter. “I’m usually at her soccer practices or driving her to a friend’s house or spending time at her school. She is sort of my extra time outside of work.”
Recounting her favorite parts of coaching her students with a smile on her face, Orlandini explained, “Their jokes, and their little things. I just love it. And same with volleyball. I think I coached volleyball because of the relationships that you make and the experiences that you have together.” Coach Jenna recognizes that competition and learning a new skill is fun, and she also realizes what makes these moments in sports so enjoyable: “I leave class, or I leave practice, or I leave a game, and I’m like—I think more about the memories that we made versus the actual physical skills that were taught. And I think that’s what attracts me to sports in general.”