Describe the qualities that your program is looking for in a potential student-athlete?
The number one quality we are looking for is passion for the game. It can’t be just an activity they use for exercise or just to be in the group. An athlete has to have true passion, the sport is the place where they gain focus, they put away all the cares of the day, it is their oasis. Playing the sport puts their world right, it fulfills them. It seems a lot, but for all the time effort and skill they put into it, passion has to be there. When there is passion, the competitiveness, aggressiveness and coachability all come in to play. If the worst thing in the world you can do to them is bench them, toss them out of practice, anything that keeps them from playing, then you know you have a kid with passion for the game. It’s the look in their eye when they talk about the game, the pride they take in themselves and their teammates and the willingness to play every point whether in practice or a game likes it’s their last.
Could you give an example of a current or former player who exceeded your expectations, highlighting the reasons that player excelled?
I had a player who was decent, I thought a good defensive player, she came into us as an awkward freshmen and suddenly with her heart and passion beat out a supposed starter for the right side hitter position, playing all the way around. Her sophomore year we changed her position to outside hitter, again she just put her heart into learning the spot and played hard night in and night out. This mind you from a kid who couldn’t jump rope. For her senior year because of a disciplinary issue and removal from the team our starting middle hitter, again we moved her position to middle. Not an easy transition for the best athletes, and here we go again. She had her best year, going undefeated in conference and the conference tournament and to the sweet 16 of the ncaa. For her work she received all conference nominations three years at three different positions, she also set for us one off season when our setter had mono. The key is she never worried how these changes would affect her individual performance but instead concentrated on what she could do for the benefit of the team. She was just happy to be on the court contributing. She is coaching now, so I guess it was in her blood.