One of my favorite aspects of coaching is the ability to invest personally into the growth of student-athletes over the course of their time with our program, and even during the recruiting process. The opportunity to choose people who you want to be around and want to invest in on a daily basis is a real blessing. It is humbling to see people mature and grow, not only as athletes but as people and leaders, as we live life with them during their time in our program. While it is really fun to teach the game, the actual training and techniques are such a small part of the job of coaching. It is an incredible honor to be involved in our players’ lives through sport.
It is really exciting to be on the front edge of a sport that is coming into its own on the national stage. It is incredibly fun to see how beach volleyball is growing at the junior level all over the country and colleges and universities continue to add the sport! In 20 years or so it is going to be amazing to look back and know that we were at the beginning of one of the most popular sports in NCAA History. Other than the historical significance of coaching beach right now, I absolutely love the pace and the vibe of the sport. The beach volleyball matches are intense and fast, but the people who are involved in our sport are, for the most part, friendly and laid back. I’m friends with most of the other coaches and really enjoy the chance to see them out recruiting or even during competition. There is a real love and appreciation for when the games are played at a really high level, no matter what uniform the participants are wearing.
Honestly, we had a lot of really great moments this past year. Big wins, awesome performances, highest finish at the NCAA Tournament for our program, but the most powerful memory of this season for me personally was a non-volleyball moment in Gulf Shores. On the eve before the NCAA Tournament started, one of our players was baptized in the Gulf of Mexico. Our whole team was there and able to share in that moment and celebrate with her!! To see someone be radically changed and to want to make that statement of faith publicly, with their team, at that venue, was something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
The only thing I can think of is maybe my sunglasses!! I’m really not a fan of squinting. One of the most beautiful aspects of our sport is that it allows the players to be in control of the majority of the decisions and adjustments during competition. The job of the coach during actual matches is really limited to brief feedback and small adjustments…if we are even able to have a coach there at all. If we don’t train our players well enough to survive without our constant feedback then we haven’t really given them the ability to be successful at all.
I love playing golf!! However, at this time in life, what I’m most passionate about is my family. I have a daughter who just went off for her freshman year of college and is playing volleyball. It’s fun to see her out on her own and creating her personal pathway away from home. At this point, it’s kind of like coaching a beach volleyball match. We can give her minimal feedback and assistance, so we hope that we’ve done well enough to equip her to make the decisions and adjustments on her own that will allow her to be as successful as possible. We also have two more high schoolers, a daughter who is a senior and a son who is a freshman, so there’s still daily training at home to focus on!! Away from work, my wife and I know that we have limited time to impact their perception of life so that is definitely something we are passionate about. Once they are all gone I’ll play more golf!!
I really enjoy growing things….I have a bit of a green thumb. My favorite birthday gift this year was a Succulent of the Month subscription from my wonderful wife!!! I love having plants around and watching them grow and bloom. For years I had a saltwater reef tank and have grown live coral. It’s kind of like growing beautiful underwater plants. I don’t have a tank now, but it is another one of the things I’ll get back into when we have more time!