There are a lot of benefits that young athletes gain from playing sports. I believe these benefits can be broken into 5 categories:
Character Building (Leadership, Discipline, Work Ethic, Mental Fortitude, etc.)
Forging Meaningful Friendships and Support Systems
Long-term Health and Fitness
Fun and Enjoyment
The opportunity of sports scholarships (Being great at the sport and winning)
My direction as coach is to do my best to help maximize all 5 of these categories for my athletes. I don't ever expect that I will reach the status of a "perfect" coach, however I will always be striving to do so! In order to achieve this, I have begun developing a coaching philosophy that is based on 3 things. Culture, Hard Work, and Efficiency.
Culture. Great results come from hard work, and for me the key to get ALL athletes to go above and beyond practice after practice after practice, is the culture of the team. Maybe one in a thousand athletes will have the strong will to stick to a sport, when the culture is negative, critical, and deprived of joy. I am looking to develop a culture for my team where each athlete whole heartedly invests in one another. I want to support a team that focuses on building each other up, because down the road there will be losses both on and off the court, and I want them to know that they can turn to each other in times of need. As a coach, I will always look to encourage and never criticize. I expect my athletes to do the same, coaching will be done by the coaches not by the athletes. Mistakes happen all the time, and no one is trying to fail on purpose, so the worst thing that can be done is to make one feel even worse for a mistake that's been made. It is so difficult to rebuild the trust when one has been ridiculed and criticized, so I make this an imperative.
Hard Work. Practices should be the most difficult challenge young athletes have to face for 2 reasons. 1. I want games to be easy compared to practice. 2. I want to help them learn to overcome adversity on the court so that they can apply it to other aspects in their life, the real world isn't all roses but my athletes will be prepared to overcome life’s adversities. A championship work ethic and mental fortitude is forged by repeatedly overcoming things you once thought was impossible. I have my athletes ask themselves, would your today be capable of beating your yesterday? With practices being difficult, I will do my best to inspire my athletes to be the best version of themselves day in and day out. Athletes will quite often see me join in on conditioning, for the purpose to push them to be even better. A little friendly competition against the coach is always fun, and I get to remind them that there's always more to strive for, and there’s always more for them to give.
Efficiency. Time is always the limiting factor, so in order to maximize results things must be done efficiently. Efficiency to me is measured by the amount of QUALITY repetitions done within a practice. My practices will always aim to slightly improve more touches per a minute or the quality of the touch. I like to have drills being run by the players, I want my advice to be concise and simple, I train athletes to have a good understanding of fundamentals so that they can evaluate their own form and mechanics. I look to cut out unnecessary things from practice such as lazy walking, confusion of instructions, having to stop drills to advise a single player, etc. Fun, silliness, and socializing with peers has a very welcomed place at my practices, as the best learning happens when athletes are fully engaged and are having fun. Though the expectation is for players to know when to snap into focus and get serious.
Another thing added to efficiency is proper technique and biomechanics of the body. A quality repetition is having the players slowly work towards extremely solid form for any skill. As an aspiring Physical Therapist, solid form means healthy biomechanics. I plan on my athletes being able to play volleyball for the rest of their lives, so no shoulder, knee or joint problems from poor and improper technique.
Growing up, I was undoubtedly one of the smallest kids. If you looked up late-bloomer in the dictionary, you would see a picture of me! This is not an exaggeration, when I entered freshman year of high school I was standing at a tall 5 foot 1 and a half inches, and a hefty 85 lbs. It is safe to say not many would envy my height and my size growing up. However, I didn't let that stop me from trying to compete with my bigger peers. Now of course my parents wouldn't allow me to join any contact sports such as football or lacrosse, as that would probably be a fast ticket to snap city. So my first sport was Track followed by Cross Country. And when I first started, not only was I the smallest, I was also the slowest, and probably the weakest. But I was determined to change that. I was tired of being looked down upon, or even worse, not even being noticed. I was out to prove a point, the size of the heart is much more important than the size of the body. Being viewed as an underdog fueled my competitive drive. In order to compete, I would be forced to develop elite work ethic and a hardened mentality in order to out-work other athletes and to overcome my physical disadvantages. Day after day, all I told myself was to just push myself one bit further than I did yesterday. I told myself I wasn't allowed to quit because I need to go 120% if I plan to compete against someone else's 100%. A few years of exercising and running with this mindset earned me a spot on a very limited 7-man varsity squad in just my sophomore year, for 4a high schools that had 2000+ students. Definitely one of the best feelings and achievements I had accomplished. Though by this time I was 5'4" maybe 95 lbs, slowly growing!
Fast forward to when my family moved to Washington and I attended UW, where I graduated class of '16 majoring in Sociology. There I joined the Ultimate Frisbee club my 1st year, which I attribute to helping me to develop a near running 40" vertical. It wasn't until my 2nd year, where I finally started playing volleyball with the University of Washington Men's Club Teams. It's never too late to start learning a sport! Thankfully we were blessed to have legit coaches come and to teach us beginner players the fundamentals of volleyball. For me, there were some things that stuck more than others. Most notably hitting and serving. Passing and defense not so much, so not surprisingly I played middle blocker for the team. Once again, a bit undersized at 5'10" but with a decent vertical to make up for it. I had an absolute blast learning the sport of volleyball and bonding with the guys. Learning such an intense and very punishing sport, I’m sure I made mistakes every other time I touched the ball. Unfortunately, I was only able to play club volleyball for one year, before having to utilize my time for school, work, volunteer hours, and being a Youth leader for my church community (Which I have been a youth leader for 8 years now).
Fortunately, I was able to start playing volleyball again in 2018. Playing at local open gyms, tournaments, and even hosting a small tournament with my church community. I now opt to play all positions, as well as play all kinds of volleyball: beach, grass, indoors, and snow! Aside from volleyball and coaching, I am investing my time into one day becoming a Physical Therapist, Youth Development and Leadership with my church, and playing a little bit of Tetris and Chess on the side.