Kurt Jensen, Assistant Coach U18 - BRVBA

was born and raised in Northern California, moving to the Puget Sound area in 2000 at the age of 40.  At that time I had recently stopped playing volleyball tournaments for the 1st time in about 20 years, as my back was injured during a pickup hockey game before leaving CA.  It took me about 6 years before I found a brilliant local chiropractor who was able to fix me up.

When I learned to play volleyball in Norcal, there were no high school programs for boys and not many clubs either.  I was able to learn by playing pickup games anywhere and everywhere I could, as well as finding a few clinics to  attend.  One clinic was given by a former setter for the US men's national team -- Steve Suttich, who also set for UCLA back when it was the gold standard for the entire sport.  He provided a lot of good tips, training and inspiration with his coaching style that lasts to this day (tough but humorous and fun).

I played every type of volleyball tournament possible, indoor sixes, grass doubles, and beach.  Indoors I played mostly the middle blocker position for about 7 years, so I have a love for teaching that position and know the nuance of it quite well.  As my skills developed I eventually moved to OH, RH, and finally opposite in a 5-1 system.

During my early years, I was a regular on the popular Norcal grass doubles circuit where there was literally a tournament somewhere every weekend during the summer.  I was never able to win an Open tournament, but did manage to make it to the semi-finals a few times.

Eventually I found my way to the beach game.  I played and trained with a group of AAA sand players in Berkeley CA and managed to win an "unrated" beach tournament in Santa Cruz, earning a coveted beach rating for the first time.  At that point I turned into what the indoor players like to call "a sand snob", so I gave up playing the indoor game in favor of the all-around skill set needed to compete on the sand.  I was drawn to both the extra level of fitness and strategy that's required to succeed on the sand.

Once my daughter, Kaitlyn, was old enough to start learning the game (around 7 or 8), I got involved in coaching with the USYVL organization on the grass, which was playing during the summer months at 3rd Street Park in downtown Edmonds.  I continued to coach at the Alderwood Boy's & Girls Club in Lynnwood for several years as my daughter grew up.  

Finally, as she was ready to enter the world of Club volleyball at the age of 11, I helped with a fall training program at the NW Jr's club and the coaching got much more serious as I had to get the proper coaching certifications.  Kaitlyn and I eventually found our way to the Blue Royals, where I've helped out in various capacities for the last six club seasons, in addition to helping with summer and falls clinics, both indoors and on the sand this summer.

Watching and helping coach these young players is the highlight of my life now, as it helps me remember the "glory days" that I miss so much.  I vicariously live and die with them again as they win and lose matches in tournaments.   I have to admit that it was easier to play than coach now.  

Being able to offer advice on technique and strategy, do drills, and to see those things work for them is extremely satisfying.  Sitting and watching, without being able to coach and offer some "old guy wisdom" is brutally tough.  So coaching allows me a form of much needed expression, interaction and giving back to the one sport that's better than all the rest.

Those who have coached and trained with me know that my coaching style involves a lot of joking around.  I'm often fairly loud and enthusiastic during practice, especially when I see the players correctly demonstrating new techniques and skills.  I feel that strong encouragement goes a long way to counter-balance all the times we as coaches have to correct the players about technique.  When players see how excited I get when they "get it" that helps them buy-into the training program. 

I'm  really into bio-mechanics as it relates to the proper form for each skill.  I not only like to teach how to do things properly, but why we do those things.  I'm detail oriented when it comes to technique. 
I have a lot of respect for traditions and how the game has been played through several generations.  I consider myself somewhat "tough" when it comes to certain aspects of the game that are time honored and tested, so if a team does not seem to be "getting it" or listening in practice, I'm in favor of pushups, situps or running lines to get their attention.  But, I will always find ways to joke around about the discipline, even when things get intense.
A key aspect of my coaching philosophy is that I would rather see the team play the best game of their lives and lose to a strong team, than to win ugly against a weak team.  Winning and losing have to be balanced out for me, so I do not hesitate to teach healthy attitudes around this aspect of the game, which translates to every sport and life as well.