Lorelee Smith and Dan Friend

Lewis University

A House United Over Flyer Volleyball

Q&A with Husband + wife team Lorelee SMith, Head WOmen’s coach and Dan Friend, head men’s coach at Lewis University

What is your favorite aspect of coaching?


There are two specific moments with coaching that specifically tug at my heart:

1 – I love the elated smile and shine on a player’s face when they apply a learned skill in a match for a point. The look of pride they have in themselves and the ability to build inner confidence radiates from them.

2 – watching a player graduate through our program knowing they are ready for the real world. Having that last conversation with them as we reflect on all the growth they have made from the age of 17/18 up to 22/23. Again you get to see that pride within them about all they have accomplished.


There are a couple of things that come to the top right away.

1 – The relationships that I get to build with my players over their careers here, seeing them grow both mentally and physically.  Becoming better young men not only on the court but off the court as well.  Then to see what they continue to do in the next stage of their lives is just as rewarding (wife, kids, job).

2- The professional interactions that you get to have across the volleyball world.  There are so many great people involved in this sport; past, present, and coming up.  I really enjoy those interactions and conversations.

What’s the best part about both coaching at the same school?


I’m not sure I have ever told Dan this but he is one of my strongest mentors. Having access to his knowledge, support and drive while at work is a huge advantage. I can literally just walk to his office for help. I don’t have to call, text or even wait till I get home.


That we get to see each other every day and interact about the sport we love.  We can bounce questions or ideas off one another at any time.  When you have your best friend down the hall and you can use them like that it is great.

What’s your favorite thing to do together when neither one of you is in the gym (if ever!)?


We have a 3-year-old daughter.  The best moments are taking her to see and experience things Dan and I already enjoy…Beaches, movies, and travel.  Watching her light up and express her fun can highlight anyone’s day.


I really enjoy the time with my daughter throughout the week, whether it’s going to the bounce house, playing make-believe somewhere, or any activity that sees her light up.  When it’s just me and Lorelee I love going to movies and occasionally gambling (I don’t’ win very often).

What can’t you live without during a match?


Ideas.  I constantly am asking my assistants about “what if” scenarios.  I never want to be caught off guard and it is important to be ready for changes so I need opinions and plans … just in case.


My assistant always has gum for me, I need two pens in my pocket and my notebook.  Plus I always like to dress well.

do you have a hobby or cause you are passionate about?


I’ve played beach volleyball for basically my whole athletic life. It is a hobby and one I’m not sure what life will be like without.

We have also started a foundation: Rae Strong. It is to help with families with micro premature babies. We delivered our little girl at 24 weeks so this foundation comes from experience and a desire to ease some of other’s struggles.


I have two primary hobbies.  I love hanging out with my family (my 3-year-old daughter, wife, and 2 bulldogs – Achilles & Thor).  I love being around the beach and playing volleyball as much as I can during the summer.   The other thing that I’m passionate about is a foundation we started called the Rae Strong Foundation. We are trying to help families and bring awareness to preemies.  Our daughter was born at 24 weeks, 1lb and 8oz.

please tell us something fun about each other that most people would not know.


Dan gets restless without change. He seeks improvement in self, the house, new car, electronics really anything.

Dan refuses to admit a mistake but he has a smirk in his face that lets you know he is aware. It is very funny and even funnier to call him out on it.


Lorelee loves to sleep (but rarely gets to), doesn’t really eat very healthy (ice cream, pizza, Mexican, coke) but looks great, and enjoys to read whenever she has the time (she reads any type of book).
Lorelee also is extremely competitive and not just on the court.  She hides it very well, so don’t be fooled if she says it’s ok.

A side fun fact is she always seems to lose her big toenails once or twice a year, a mystery to me.