An abrupt change of direction

Little did I know when I finished it that this coaching log entry was the last of the Svedala 2015-16 updates.

I was told the next evening the club was terminating my contract with immediate effect.

Yup. That happened.

That Sunday evening the chairman asked me to a meeting starting an hour before Monday’s training. It wasn’t a surprise. We were the league’s top team the first half of the season and qualified for Gran Prix for only the second time in club history. Recent results were not good, though. We went 1-3 over our initial set of league matches in the second half. Two of those losses were against legitimate contenders¬† The last one, though, was against a team we beat twice before and should have beat that time.

After that match I had a snide comment thrown my way by a parent (yes, there are parents at the professional level). Then, during the day on Monday a board member basically told me “When the team loses three in a row it’s the coach’s fault.” I didn’t argue.

In a situation like this, it can’t be a shock to be asked to a meeting. I figured it would be a “How will you fix this?” discussion.

The chairman and another board member were there. He didn’t waste any time. They’d decided to terminate my contract. He said it was due to “differences in coaching philosophy and a lack of feedback”. Actually, he looked a bit embarrassed saying that. The other member said something encouraging about my job prospects.

I think the chairman expected a push back. I didn’t. My one comment was it would have been nice to get some indication along the way that the board wanted something different. He admitted the club made some mistakes.

The Sport Director/Manager who hired me, and was my assistant coach, took charge. Apparently, he was meant to be at the meeting, but couldn’t make it because of job requirements. I never heard anything from him.

Time to move on

When I told my friends and contacts in the European coaching ranks, they all found it a strange development. A couple of them suspected performance wasn’t really the issue. They thought it was finances. I suspect that was at least part of it. Honestly, at the time I did not really care. I wished the players well, as they were a really good group, but I moved on.

The fact of the matter I knew for a while that I wasn’t carrying on with Svedala past that season. I was proud of what we accomplished with a short-handed and relatively inexperienced squad. The situation just wasn’t a good fit for me in the broader scheme, though.

So as much as it stung to be let go, I was not overly upset about it. I just left Sweden a couple months earlier than planned. Of course the sudden development meant I had to scramble a bit to figure out where I could hang out until it was time to take on my next challenge.

See my coaching job search log posts. I was already working from that perspective before all that came down.

John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John recently compelted a stint as head coach for a women's professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women's Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

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