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Shifting into off-season mode

Last Friday was the end-of-year dinner for the Exeter University Volleyball Club, effectively marking the end of the 2013-14 season. The men’s team had a pair of South West league matches on Sunday and there are still training sessions scheduled for tonight and Wednesday, but from my perspective the job is done. The academic term ends this week and I have no further coaching duties, so I’m shifting into off-season mode.

What exactly does that mean?

Well, for starters it means quite a bit more focus on my PhD work. That is, after all, my reason for being in Exeter in the first place! I have a major deadline in mid-May in terms of work submission, then also have to do a presentation about my work to-date the last week of May. The next few weeks, therefore will be about running statistical analysis, reviewing the literature, and turning it all into something which at least marginally contributes to our understanding of things.

Of course the end of the season doesn’t mean the end of thinking about volleyball. I’m not in the situation like I was in coaching back in the States where the off-season involved loads of recruiting, plus various types of training sessions for the players who would be returning for the next season. Still, there is the need to think about what’s going to happen with Exeter in the 2014-15 season. Even as we all basked in the glow of the club’s Final 8s success, the leaders and myself and my fellow coaches have been thinking and talking about the implications of what happened this season. There are a lot of questions yet to be answered and decisions to be made.

As for myself, I don’t plan on making any major decisions regarding my coaching or anything else until after I get through May. I need to see how some things develop before I commit myself to anything meaningful one way or the other.

That said, if I do coach next year I have a hard time seeing how it could be at the same level of commitment as it was this year. All together I was on the bench for 54 matches. I will be in the last year of my PhD funding next season (though will have another year of acceptance/student visa), so will need to make sure I make the most of it by either finishing my degree or at least getting very close to having done so. I may also have teaching duties, which I haven’t had in any meaningful way this year.

I’ve talked about this issue with folks. It may be that I could only coach one teams, not both men and women. In fact, it seems likely with Exeter being in the new premier league next year that it would be impossible to coach both teams on match day as I have been able to do with very few conflicts the last two seasons, though I could still run both trainings. The funny thing is the other night at dinner one of the departing men’s players told me he’d heard that I was going to resign from coaching the guys. I haven’t said anything so definitive, but you know how it goes with the rumor mill.

In any case, I will spend some time pondering my coaching and the bigger picture of my life in general. Eventually I’ll get around to making some decisions, but not today. 🙂

John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John currently coaches for an NCAA Division II women's team. This follows 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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