Tag Archive for head volleyball coach

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – Mar 4, 2016

Late last week another interesting Division I head coach job was posted for which I put in my application. Strong academic institution, which one would think might find some extra appeal in a candidate with a doctorate. Also an attractive part of the country from a living perspective, though perhaps not as great in terms of the strength of the local volleyball.

I also put in for an assistant position with one of the Power 5 conference teams in Division I. I’ve seen a number of assistant jobs post, but for the most part I steered clear of them. None really offered anything that I thought would be appealing. This case was a little different, though. It struck me that I might be in a position there to apply my experience and connections to the program’s benefit. Of course jobs at that level that get posted often are already filled, effectively, so it might have been a waste of time.

As for Texas…
I got a call on Tuesday basically asking me if I’ll accept the job if offered. My answer was “Yes”. Obviously, though, that comes with the assumption the offer is a reasonable one. The expressed hope was that things could be sorted out to be able to get me that offer later in the week, but the Athletic Director was out of town, so delays were anticipated.

There was also the question of setting the hire date. I said I could basically start right away. For sure the desire would be for me to be on campus when the players return from Spring Break and begin their Spring team training. Actually, getting there ahead of that for planning and organizational purposes would be ideal – not to mention giving me a chance to get my living circumstances sorted out before things got busy.

I now coach a professional volleyball team!

This morning I signed my first professional volleyball coaching contract. I’m officially now the head coach of Svedala Volleybollklubb, which plays in the top women’s division in Sweden. This is the job I referred to in last week’s log entry.

If you asked me back in the 2000s when I was coaching NCAA volleyball whether I would ever coach in Europe, let alone Sweden, I probably would have laughed. Admittedly, I was kind of ignorant about the global volleyball world at the point (not that I’m some all-knowing font of information now). Even when I started the job search back in December I wouldn’t have given very good odds of ending up in Sweden. One thing I figured out a long time ago, though, is life can take you in the least expected directions.

This job is a definite “who you know” development. One of the coaches I spent time with last summer knew the Svedala coach of the past two seasons who had decided to move on. It was through this connection that I found out about the opening and was given the details for applying. It took a few weeks for things to play out. I exchanged a number of emails with the club’s sports director, who is also manager of the team I’ll coach, has been the assistant coach recently, and once coached the team himself.

The process started on May 5th with my initial indication of interest. It didn’t really get going until May 16th, though. That was when I was given an indication of the club’s situation and designs. I was asked to outline my coaching philosophy. Being the naturally curious sort, I asked loads of questions about the club and Swedish volleyball more broadly. On May 24th, as part of being in the top 3-4 candidates under consideration I was provided with an outline of the contract terms. More Q&A followed, of course. I was then offered the position on June 1st and accepted on the 2nd.  Believe it or not, I didn’t have so much as a phone interview in the whole process.

Per the contract, these are my responsibilities:

a) Participate fully in the efforts of the Club to reach the play-offs.

b) Actively lead the elite team’s practices organized by the Club.

c) Participate in sponsor related events organized by the Club.

d) The coach should also be prepared to participate in other club activities and be a part of the total coaching team at the club.

e) Be part of the Club’s general work in the community

f) Wear specified sportswear with sponsor information during training, games and other arrangements conducted by the Club.

g) Be prepared to mentor other coaches in the Club

h) Not use any drugs specified by the Swedish national Volleyball Federation (Svenska Volleybollförbundet) and FIVB to be considered as drugs or doping substances.

As you can see, not only will I be responsible for coaching the club’s top team, I will also be tasked to work with the coaches from the club’s lower teams. Naturally, there are the usual public relations efforts as well.

The club’s responsibility to me is as follows:

1. Structured support surrounding practice and matches.

2. Medical support in volleyball related circumstances.

3. Health and Care insurance at least compatible with national standards

4. Accommodation in Svedala.

5. A round trip flight ticket to Sweden (Copenhagen Airport).

Plus my monthly salary, of course. As I mentioned in my comparison of professional vs. NCAA coaching, in Europe it is standard for club’s to provide accommodation and transportation to coaches (and players). Sweden is a lower level league and Svedala is a small club, so I definitely won’t be getting rich off the salary. If you work things back out, the equivalent pre-tax salary is probably about in line with that of a low level NCAA Division I head coaching job. And like those lower level programs, the resources at my disposal will be limited.

I have actually already started performing duties for my position. I am going to begin a new coaching log for 2015-16 to document things along the way. Look for my first entry soon. I’m definitely looking forward to the new challenge. I’ve never been to Sweden.

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – June 5, 2015

The only news that matters is that I was offered the professional job I talked about getting short-listed for previously. And I accepted the offer. The club is Svedala in Sweden. Once the details are finalized I will talk about things more specifically – probably next week.

In the meantime, for those who might be interested, below is a list of all the volleyball coaching jobs I applied for in the last six months. Some of them I knew I had no shot at, but put my resume in because it got my name out there for potential future consideration. Other positions no doubt were already filled before they were even posted. So while the list below is long – perhaps depressingly so from a job-seeker’s perspective – only part of it is jobs I was actually ever really in potential consideration for on some level. Those in red are ones I either got a rejection note from or otherwise found out the job was filled.

NCAA/NAIA Head Coach (NCAA Division I unless noted)

NCAA Assistant Coach (Division I unless noted)

Non-US head coach

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – May 29, 2015

Scratch the Angelo State and Idaho State assistant positions from the list of prospective new jobs.. Likewise for the Robert Morris (Chicago) head job. Also, the head coach position at German club Münster was filled by a coach unexpectedly nabbed from another club.

I applied for an NCAA Division III head coach job in the Northeast. It is a position which includes teaching responsibilities. I’ve avoided those types of jobs to-date, largely because they seem to require P.E. type degrees, which I don’t have. This one, though, seems to want someone able to teach about coaching, which I’m better equipped to do. It’s also at an academically high level school, which appeals to me.

Around about the time I was finalizing last week’s log entry, I got an email from a German contact about a women’s Bundesliga head job he’d just put in for. That led to an exchange about coaching together. The club in question apparently was put into a scramble by their current coach unexpectedly leaving. Word had it internal candidates had or were going to turn management down in terms of being promoted (which seems now to be the case). It turns out one of those approached was the current assistant who is the father of a player on the team of one of my other contacts in Germany. I joked that if said father did indeed accept the promotion, maybe the child’s coach could get him to hire me in his former position. 🙂

Also referring back to last week’s log entry, I did hear back again from the club who told me I was on their short list to head coach. I was given the basic framework of what the contract would look like. Financially, it was about what I’d been told to expect. The contract period wasn’t quite what I’d anticipated, but not in any way that would impact significantly on my decision was an offer to be made.

 

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – May 22, 2015

In the last week I put in for another Division I assistant position.

I did some follow up with two of the clubs in Europe I was in touch with about head coach positions where I’ve been waiting to hear back. The manager at one of them responded that there’s been a fair bit of interest in their position, but that I was “…one of the coaches I would like to discuss the position further with.” What followed was an email exchange covering the club’s recent history and ambitions, my coaching philosophy, and some other related topics. I’ll get into more specifics later once things are resolved one way or the other. I was told at the beginning of the week that I’m on the list of the final 3-4 candidates and that I’d hear back around today with “…a little more details and numbers.”

The rejection list adds the assistant job at UAB., the assistant job at Buffalo, the assistant job at Clemson, the head job at Urbana, and the head job at UC Irvine. I knew I had zero chance at the latter.

One of the things I’ve decided recently is that I’m not going to pursue just any position anymore. Not that I’ve put my resume in for every job I’ve come across – though at times it’s seemed that way. I’ve simply decided that there must be a legitimate positive about a coaching job. If it’s a lower level job where moving up the career ladder probably isn’t going to be a real consideration, then the position needs to be in a place I legitimately think I would like to live in, where I think I can do some good things for the program, and where I’ll still have opportunities to pursue my other projects and interests. If it’s a job where I would expect to be able to move up a step or two after a couple seasons, then I’m willing to sacrifice some things.

That could all become moot, though. There’s apparently some interest from my former employer (finance industry) in hiring me back in the London office. I’m fast approaching a point where I’m going to have to make some hard decisions if nothing meaningful develops on the coaching front. I can’t really stay in Exeter any later than the latter part of July because of my housing and PhD funding situation, so I will have to move in the next eight weeks one way or the other. If I am indeed offered that finance job, I will very seriously have to consider taking it as we’re getting to the point of the year where US jobs openings of any consequence will be few and far between.

On the plus side, living and working in London could offer me the opportunity to continue coaching at the UK university level as there are a number of programs in and around the city. There are several National League clubs I could potentially coach for as well. On top of all that, it would also be easier for me to get involved with the national team program if an opportunity were to arise. I do generally like the idea of working to help grown the sport in England, and more narrowly to help develop the country’s volleyball coaches.

We’ll see how things play out.

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – May 8, 2015

All things together, it’s been an active week on the job front.

At the head coach level, I applied for a Division III head coach position in my old stomping grounds. It’s a job I’ve gone back and forth over for a few different reasons. Decent program in a place I might be inclined to settle in for the long haul should I decide to go that direction. Probably not a great position if I’m thinking in terms of a career progression. There’s also an income tradeoff question relative to non-volleyball options. In the end I decided that I can always say “No thanks” if I end up not liking the situation or whatever.

I found out another Division III program in the Northeast is opening up due to the head coach retiring. It’s in the category of elite academic institutions, which makes it quite interesting for me. I sent a message to the outgoing coach asking about the job. She and I used to cross paths from time to time. I’m waiting on a reply.

At the assistant level, in the last week I applied for a pair of Division I assistant positions in the Southeast, and for a Division II assistant position in the Southwest. I also put in for a Division I position in the Northeast in the same conference one of my reference coaches. I was hoping he would get some insight into things for me before I applied, but it sounds like instead he was looking to pitch me. Kind of awkward when I hadn’t submitted my resume yet, which I then had to quickly do. 🙂

Never did hear back following my phone interview, so it was no surprise to find out that SMU went with someone else for assistant coach. No real complaint as he looks a pretty solid choice.

Also on the didn’t get list is the Division I assistant jobs at North Dakota State and Southeast Missouri, and the Division II assistant gig at Western Oregon. Also the Division III head job at Knox College. and the Division II head position at Newman University. The latter stimulated some online chatter (including from the contact to told me of the opening) as new coach hired has only high school and club coaching experience – and only a handful of seasons at that.

Internationally, a contact of mine in Germany put me in touch with an Australian coach he knows in Sweden who has recently stepped down from the professional women’s team he’s been leading. Said Aussie encouraged me to connect with the club about the position, so I’ve sent an email. Got a note back from the team manager saying there’s a fair bit of interest and that he will get back in touch when they decide on the direction they want to take.

Mentality: Coaching Career vs. Simply Coaching

If you read my coaching job search log you may have noticed that at times I talked about the career implications of certain types of jobs. I realized with a degree of sadness at one point that thinking in terms of a full-time volleyball coaching career led me down a path very different from the one that got me back into coaching in the first place.

Let me explain.

The back story

I left coaching after the 2006 NCAA Division I women’s season following six years at Brown University. Aside from the last one – which was rough because of bad team chemistry – they were generally fulfilling years. Might have been fun to win a few more matches. In terms of the work I did, though – both at Brown and in the broader community and context – I was content. The problem was finances. I was flat broke and the assistant coach job I was in was only technically part-time. I left coaching to return to my former career in finance to make a living and get myself out of the big hole I was in. That took five years.

Over that period, I followed NCAA volleyball, but intentionally stayed away for fear of getting sucked back into coaching. I needed to focus on my finances. It wasn’t until 2011 that I actually attended a match again. I was at a conference at UCLA and they happened to be hosting Stanford. I figured it would be crazy not to take advantage of the timing. Later, I went to watch Harvard host Princeton at the invitation of the Princeton coach, who was a fellow Ivy League assistant during my Brown days.

By that point the PhD idea was firmly rooted and I was in the application process. When I first visited the University of Exeter in England in February 2012, a visit to a local club training session was on the agenda. I figured connecting with the local volleyball community would be a good way to socialize myself beyond the academic environment. I didn’t have a specific plan in mind at the time, but figured coaching would feature in some fashion. The idea of coaching the university teams developed months later based on exchanges I had with a fellow American already involved.

Coaching with no expectations

There was no agenda when I started coaching at Exeter. In fact, the original plan was that I would “help out”. Things quickly went beyond that, of course. My point, though, is that I wasn’t thinking at all from a coaching career perspective. I was just thinking that I would like to get back involved in coaching volleyball again after my break from it.

Coaching in Exeter – both at the university and during my stint with the Devon Ladies (see my bio for details) – was about the two things that most motivate me. One is teaching and helping players develop. The other is problem solving – finding solutions to the continuous challenges presented. I talked a bit about this in Coaches coach. It wasn’t about my resume.

How is this going to look?

When I started looking for a full-time coaching job in the latter part of 2014 and into 2015, I found myself thinking mainly about resume implications. It was less about teaching and problem-solving. Questions like “How will this job set me up for the next position?” went through my mind.

Partly, this is a function of going after at least as many assistant coaching jobs as head coach positions. I was to the point where I have the knowledge and experience to be a head coach in my own right. I knew I might, however, have to re-enter the full-time coaching ranks lower down in order to eventually get that kind of opportunity down the road. Alternatively, I may be have been able to take a head coaching position at a lower level. I could then look to move up from there. In either case, I’d need to be in a place where I could be part of enough success to be taken seriously (or potentially attract interest) with regards to an upward progression.

For example, there was at the time a head coaching vacancy in my home state. There were a number of potential positives to a job like that. If, however, I was thinking in terms of it being a stepping-stone job then it was probably not a good situation. It was not just being a pure coaching job (has additional admin duties). Also, the program was a fairly good one regionally, but in a relatively weak part of the country. It would be a long, slow progression to try to move up from there to the type of position I’d like to have. I was no spring chicken, which was a consideration in situations like that.

All I really wanted…

In an ideal world I would have found myself a head coach job in a place I wanted to live. It would be in a program where there was a good working environment and enough support for me to be able to develop and progress things.

I am not inherently ambitious from the perspective of wanting to climb the proverbial ladder. I don’t need to constantly move to “better” programs. However, I do need to see an opportunity to keep moving forward where I’m at. Once I get to the point where I feel like I’ve done the most I can there, then I would feel the need to move on.

Beyond that, though, I just wanted to be able to teach and problem-solve – as I did at Exeter.

At the end of the day…

In the end, I did land myself a head coaching job – at Svedala in Sweden. I liked the location, though my living arrangements left something to be desired. Unfortunately, I realized early on that it wasn’t a long-term solution in terms of being able to influence club progress. I couldn’t push things forward in a broader sense beyond the on-court stuff. Even still, it was a good experience.

I was back in the job market in 2016, albeit briefly. Joining Midwestern State University as an assistant looked like a good chance to be in a rebuild situation. That was the problem-solving element I was after. It was also a path back into US college volleyball in a place where the sport is a big deal. That was also of interest to me, but at the same time was something with future considerations. It’s a lot easier to get a future job coming from a higher level than a lower one. So it combined finding a good situation for what I enjoyed and having an eye toward the future.

We’ll see what that means for my future.

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – May 1, 2015

I recently had an exchange with the German coaching contact I’ve mentioned in these log posts before on the difference between job application approach between Germany and the US. In the latter case the resume is the major focus. Cover letters are generally encouraged to be brief and to the point, and to focus on addressing the indicated position requirements. In Germany, though, the resume (CV) is less central and fit is more a factor from the outset. I suspect that is because for coaching jobs there you don’t have the usual formal application process seen in US institutions with their online forms and all that.

Although the US process may be more rigid, the exchange we had did serve as a reminder. As coaching job applicants we are selling ourselves to whoever it is that’s looking to hire. That means we should be focused not on ourselves, but on them. How can we help them achieve their objectives. The first step in the process is trying to identify those objectives, which isn’t always easy given very boilerplate job postings. This is where having contacts helps big time.

I also had a note from another contact – a former NCAA Division I head coach who has stepped away from coaching, but continues to work in volleyball. He made the following comment:

This has been a tough year for jobs; I have many friends which have had zero luck, even though they are very qualified and good people.  I am not sure why, but it is just one of those things.  I think you would be well served to build your resume internationally via the professional clubs at this point.

This same person also said the Division I assistant job I had a phone interview for last week would be a good one. I was supposed to hear back on that mid-week, but nothing thus far. Not filling me with positive expectations. I put my resume in for another Division I assistant position this week in what was otherwise pretty quiet on that front.

The jobs I won’t be getting officially include the Holy Cross head coach job, and one of the German jobs I put in for recently. In the latter case, it sounds like they basically already had someone in mind.

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – Apr 17, 2015

Got yet another rejection note from Cornell, this time for the assistant job. Also found out the UNC Charlotte assistant position has been filled. That’s actually the first assistant job I went after, but the head coach left in the middle of that process, which naturally put everything on hold.

I applied for a Division I assistant position in the Southeast.

I applied officially for the Division II head job in the Northeast I mentioned last week. Interestingly, I got a note from the Athletic Director later on the day that I applied letting me know the posting had finally gone up. Perhaps a bit of interest based on initial contact?

Also applied for another Division II head coach position. This one is in the upper Midwest.

Another Division I head coaching position has opened up due to a coaching retirement. I haven’t seen an official posting for it yet. No doubt it’s filling will create another cascade of coaching moves.

Had some advice from a contact in Europe that taking a coaching position at a second division Swiss club – as I talked about last week – probably would prove very limiting. The potential for progression, advancement, and/or growth in some fashion are all definitely factors in any decision I would make with respect to a coaching job – in Europe or anywhere else.

The same contact also pointed me toward a new coaching vacancy in the German women’s Bundesliga – the top professional league in that country. He said my training and development as a volleyball coach in the land of Karch could generate some interest. 🙂  I’ve put some of my other contacts in Germany to work to learn more about what the club might be after and my prospects.