Brittany Smith | Head Coach | Women’s Volleyball | Wheaton College

Describe the qualities that your program is looking for in a potential student-athlete?

First and foremost, we are looking for talent on the court and off the court. If a student-athlete can’t perform in the classroom, their job in college and my job as their coach becomes much more difficult. Also, if a student-athlete isn’t talented enough to play or excel in our program, then they will get frustrated and I will get frustrated. Talent, in the classroom and on the court, are the first two things we look for when recruiting for a student-athlete.

Additionally, we are looking for young women who want to be great. Desire and motivation are extremely important when balancing the challenging academics at our school, and campus activities. If a student doesn’t have the internal motivation to excel, and desire to do something significant, our program won’t be a good fit for them. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have to want to be an All-American (although we do like that), but they have to want to compete and work hard to accomplish something. There are plenty of athletes that will comply with expectations; I’m looking for athletes that pursue their own dreams.

Finally, I’m looking for young women who will buy into our team philosophy of servant leadership. Success happens when you manage your own talents and win. Greatness happens when you managed your own talents and help others use their talents better…then you win and have influence. I want to help foster an environment where greatness and influence happen all the time.


Could you give us an example of a current or former player who exceeded your expectations, highlighting the reasons that player excelled?

I coached a young lady for four years while we were building a nationally ranked program. She played her freshman year and then each subsequent year played less. She was compliant, serving toward others, and always did what I asked of her. She was by far the hardest worker in our program. But she had no influence, and as a coaching staff, we weren’t sure of her impact other than what she did (hard work, great effort, never complained, etc.). To many coaches, she would be a dream player. We wanted more from her.

The spring prior to her senior season we met often, talking about her goals and the vision for our team. We had these conversations before, but at this time, it took on different meaning to this player. We noticed more intentional effort on her part to SERVE her teammates, on and off the court. The investment she made in them, not at our own direction, started to create influence on the court as well. She had always been a great teammate, and good encourager, but she did it on her terms, not on her teammates terms.

That fall, when we came back, this player literally willed our team to win and be successful through her hard work. The definition of hard work had changed for her: instead of doing whatever we needed her to do for herself, she was now doing that but also doing what she could for her teammates. They saw that change, and they wanted to help her. With her focus, determination, GREATNESS in influence and desire, she helped our team reach the National tournament and finish ranked 9th in the nation.

This player was a coach’s dream her whole four year experience. Hard work, effort, compliance, helper, servant…but her influence was still limited. It wasn’t until she sought to influence her teammates in ways that were a little uncomfortable to her, did we truly reach our potential.