Tag Archive for US collegiate volleyball

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – May 15, 2015

The new week of applying for jobs started with a submission for a volunteer assistant opening at a school in one of the Big 5 conferences. Also put in for a non-volunteer assistant position at another similar level program, and for a mid-level Division I assistant job as well.

I put in for the head coach position at an NAIA school. It’s not exactly in a part of the country that I probably would have named if asked for a target region, but it looks to be relatively attractive country. The position is full-time, but only 10 months, so the pay is on the low end. It does look like a situation I could make better, though.

One of my US coaching contacts (as opposed the German ones I’ve mentioned frequently) actually suggested there might be an opening at one of her former programs. That would be a Division I assistant position in the southern part of the country. As it turned out, though, the position was already filled, just not yet announced.

Someone on Twitter also pointed me at a vacancy with Volleyball England. They are in need of a Cadet Boys National Team coach. Interesting to consider, but it’s a volunteer position. I would need an actual paying job somewhere else to be able to take it on.

On the didn’t get list goes the head job at Augustana (Division II).

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.

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 24, 2015

Last week I mentioned a position opening up in Germany’s top division on the women’s side. One of my coaching contacts told me a bit about the club and strongly encouraged me to go after the job. Another contact asked around on my behalf and told me they were looking to move quickly, so I went ahead and got my CV in. We’ll see if anything develops. If nothing else, it doesn’t hurt to have my name out there. It’s a relatively large club, so there might be other opportunities.

That same contact also pointed me toward a pair of other clubs in search of new coaches – both on the women’s side. One finished near the bottom of the Bundesliga, but should be able to stay up. The other has earned promotion this year. In the latter case, the current coach apparently doesn’t feel up to coaching in the top flight, so is stepping down to assistant. Potentially an awkward situation for someone new coming in, but it doesn’t bother me. I actually see it as an opportunity to have someone on-hand who would be able to quickly get me up to speed on the team, the club, and the overall system. A different coaching friend in Germany – one with a high profile – emailed the club manager on my behalf.

Back in the US market, I put in for a pair of assistant coaching jobs in Division I. I actually got my first phone interview for one of them! Had that last night. It seemed to go pretty well. Sounds like the head coach is looking to move quickly, so I’ll know if it’s going to go anywhere fairly shortly. I plan on writing a post about the interview questions I got, as I imagine they are probably fairly common ones and therefore may be of interest to others going through the process.

I also gave some hard consideration to a combined men’s and women’s Division III job in the Northeast. As I’ve mentioned, I like the idea of that kind of position at that level, but this particular situation doesn’t look to be a good one. It’s a very small school (if both teams had full rosters it would represent like 5% of the student body!) with what I suspect is limited support.

In terms of the positions I won’t be getting, the LIU Division I head job is filled. Ditto for the UConn and Illinois Division I assistant coach jobs, and the Northwest Oklahoma State (NAIA going Division II) and Rockford Division III head jobs. Also got a “you’ve not been selected for an interview” email from North Dakota State with respect to an assistant position there.

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.

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – Apr 10, 2015

The first rejection notice of the week came from Wake Forest where I’d put in for an assistant position. The second came with respect to an assistant job at West Virginia. Also found out the Northwestern State head job has been filled. Same with the Buffalo job. That one is raising some eyebrows as the new coach has very little coaching experience, even as a collegiate assistant.

I applied for another Division II head coaching position. It’s the one in the upper Midwest I mentioned as set to open up in last week’s update.

I sent in my resume for a Division II position in the Northeast which had not yet been posted. A contact of mine from the area suggested they would be going after a female candidate, which hardly comes as a surprise. I also suspect their recent success with a “30-under-30” type coach may encourage them to try to find another young candidate. Won’t get anywhere if I don’t try, though.

I put in for what looks to be a combined men’s and women’s coaching position at an NAIA program in the upper Midwest, and for an upper level Division I assistant job in the same part of the country.

I also put in for a Division I assistant position in the South. It’s a combined indoor and sand program. I suspect the job requirements were somewhat crafted to fit the qualifications of an incumbent coach the way it reads. Interestingly, part of those qualifications are based on him spending a year in England.

A friend of mine from the German professional ranks pointed me at a clubs-seeking-coaches website, and in particular a 2nd Division Swiss club looking for a new coach. I sent the president an email with my resume. Why not? I actually heard back – believe it or not. The job would entail coaching both the first team and the Juniors. The indicated compensation would be 800 Swiss francs per month along with paid housing and public transit pass, plus six restaurant meals per week, which I’m told is reasonable for the level. There’s a concern about my lack of EU citizenship, though. I’ve heard in general that shouldn’t be an issue, but it could be a cost hurdle for this particular club.

A different coach in Germany pointed me at another Swiss club in need of a coach. This one is in the top division, with a pretty good history of success. Might be a tough sell, but it never hurts to put my CV out there.

Yet another German contact suggested there might be an opportunity or two in Germany coming up in the coming weeks. There’s a potential question of my coaching certification level, however.

College volleyball is not the end of the line

At USA Volleyball they express a philosophy. They tell coaches in the various educational programs that we should never be a player’s last coach. In the context of youth volleyballers, that’s a pretty easy mentality to take. At its most altruistic, coaching at that level is about bringing kids into the volleyball tent and keeping them there. From what can sometimes be a more materialistic perspective, the focus is on developing players for collegiate recruitment – or in the case of much of the the world outside the U.S., progress up the club ranks in a professional structure. The problem comes when you reach what many people view as the pinnacle of the sport in America – the college game.

College volleyball is not the end

Yes, there is the national team. The vast majority of college coaches, though, don’t give much thought to even that. After all, only players from the top programs make it into the national program. Basically, they just expect their players to graduate and go get a job in the real world.

Here’s the thing, though. There’s a whole bunch of former US collegiate players who have gone on to play overseas after graduation. USA Volleyball reports that more than 300 American players file for international transfer certificates (required to play outside your own country). About 2/3rds of them are women.

For some of them it’s about continuing their education and using their volleyball skills to pay their way. I coached against a few of those players in my time coaching BUCS in England. Former Stetson University assistant coach Scott Tunnell is an example of this sort of player. A handful of universities in the UK activity recruit former US college players with Master’s degree scholarships. Not a bad way to continue your education and get an experience living and playing abroad.

Of course the headline players are the ones who go on to play in top foreign profession leagues. The New York Times has been the highest profile news outlet to pick up on the story. Volleyball Magazine had an article on the subject and I came across an interesting piece on Facebook as well. And Americans are not the only ones going this route. Canadians are in on the party as well.

It isn’t only the household name volleyball players going pro, though. A former player of mine from my Brown coaching days played on teams in Belgium, Holland, and England. Brown is hardly the sort of program anyone would expect to produce professional volleyballers, but she went on to have a great experience playing abroad.

It’s not just about going pro overseas

On top of the international opportunities, we cannot forget domestic beach volleyball, USA Volleyball indoor club play, and any potential pro league that might develop. The point is college coaches shouldn’t be looking at their programs as the final stop in their player’s coaching journey. We need to maintain that USA Volleyball philosophy of not being a player’s last coach.

One of the more rewarding experiences of my coaching at Exeter was having a Danish exchange student who spent a semester with the team tell me at the end she enjoyed her volleyball so much that she was going to try to find a way to keep playing when she got back home. We should all be aiming to have that kind of impact on our athletes. If nothing else, the better their experience with us the more likely they’ll be to support the program – and the sport in general – in the future!

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – Apr 3, 2015

Attending the CEV Champions League Final 4 last weekend was a bit of a bust in terms of developing direct new job-related contacts – at least from an immediate term perspective. There is the potential for longer-term impact, however.

I got a rejection email from San Francisco with regards to their assistant coach vacancy, as well as for the UT Martin head coach position. I should note that in the latter case the rejection email was sent simultaneously to a number of coaches and they didn’t bcc the recipient list, so now we all know who applied and got shot down.

Also found out that the Lake Erie (Division II) head job has been filled – by a guy with a name an awful lot like mine! The Marist head job has also been filled.

A new contact on LinkedIn actually informed me of a Division II head job in the middle part of the country that has just opened up. The posting hasn’t gone up on any of the boards I follow, so I had to go to the school’s employment section to find the listing. I’ve applied for it, along with another Midwestern position for a program getting ready to be full Division II.

I’ve also seen that a Division II job in the Northeast has also come open, along with another in the upper Midwest. Neither has posted officially at this point. In one case there’s an on-going search for a new Athletic Director, which could slow things down.

I also applied for another Division I assistant job – one at a fairly high level.

New assistant coach working with former teammates

The following emailer seeks some advice. I present the text of their note here, with my reply below, in hopes of generating some discussion. I know there are a number of current and/or former collegiate assistant coaches who read the blog. Hopefully, we can get something going based on different kinds of experience.

I recently graduated in December and was offered to be the assistant women’s volleyball coach. I am in an awkward transition from being a student athlete to now coaching my former teammates. I have coached club volleyball for the last 5 or 6 years, but I have never coached at the college level. I am a member of the AVCA and submitted an application to receive a mentor, but they are unable to match me just yet. Do you have any advice by chance? Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!

It can definitely be a challenge to have to coach former teammates. I did a bit of it back when I was doing some coaching after high school. Mainly, though, I was a drill facilitator rather than someone providing real coaching. Though I did push to try to develop a quick attack. Unfortunately, the head coach wasn’t really interested in pursuing it (much to my frustration!)

If you’re working with a head coach who has a pretty strong presence with the team then things probably won’t be too difficult for you with respect to your former teammates. They will just see you as being Coach’s helper more than actually being someone who’s telling them what to do. That’s not a bad thing. It makes it really easy for you to take a learning approach.

Provide information

Either way, though, I think the key for you developing a good working relationship with them is taking a “providing information” angle on your interactions. By that I mean try to avoid coming off as telling them what to do. That could be tough for former teammates to take. Instead, try to think of the sorts of things you wanted to hear from your coaches – scouting information, stats on their play, video of what they’re doing, encouragement, a kick in the butt at the right time, etc.

Professional relationship

Potentially the biggest challenge will be developing a professional relationship with your former teammates. You can have a friendly relationship with them, but you can’t be their buddy anymore. You’re their coach now. Yes, assistant coaches tend to be closer to the players in that regard, but there are boundaries which you have to establish and maintain. You need to be able to view them objectively and work with them without personal entanglements which can create all kinds of problems.

Definitely talk with your head coach about this stuff. They should be able to help guide you.

Be loyal

And one last thing. A coaching staff is like a set of parents. It should always present a unified front to the team. That means you do not contradict the head coach or another assistant in front of the team or when speaking with any of the players. And you never do anything which might damage another coach’s standing with the team – or anyone else, for that matter.

Here’s some additional advice on being a good assistant.