Tag Archive for US collegiate volleyball

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – Jan 23, 2015

As I mentioned on Monday, I was in Berlin for most of the week, so not overly active in the job hunt process aside from monitoring the postings and announcements. I’ve seen a few new positions posted which may be of interest. Now that I’m back in the swing of things – at least for a a week and a half before heading off to the USA Volleyball HP coaching clinic – I’ll consider today which, if any, I’ll go after.

Among the jobs I’ve applied for, three head coach posts are filled – Coker College men’s team, Western Illinois, and Montana State. Thus far, only the last of the trio contacted me (nice rejection email). That still leaves a whole bunch of jobs I’ve put in for, but I haven’t heard about any of them so far. It interesting how many head coach jobs remain unfilled. Now that school has started back up again for most colleges, I would expect to see a real push to get them sorted out.

On the professional coaching front, I found out an assistant coach I know of in the men’s game in Germany is well connected in the women’s game there as well. He might be able to point me in the direction of prospective job openings, alongside those I may hear about from my other coaching contacts.

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – Jan 16, 2015

Among the jobs I applied for that are now filled is UT Rio Grande Valley, which is a new merged University of Texas school (UT Pan American is the Division I program included). Never got a response to my application. Not a real surprise as they simply put the UT Brownsville (part of the merger) coach in the job. In other words, the posting was simply pro forma, which happens a lot. I’ve seen that CS Fullerton is also filled. No response at all there, yet. Also never got a response from Mississippi State either, which is also filled, not that I expected much there. That was a complete shot-in-the-dark application (one of several). Yesterday I commented on three other positions that I know for sure I won’t be getting.

Found out the head coach at one of the schools where I applied for an assistant coach vacancy resigned. That throws things up in the air! I’ve now applied for the head coach job, both online and by emailing the SWA (did that before the online posting went up).

I also applied for three more assistant jobs in the last week. Two were schools in middling conferences. One is an experienced head coach with a very inexperienced staff. The other is even more experienced, but seems to favor more experience assistants based on what I’ve seen. The other is quite high profile, in a stronger conference.

I also decided against applying for another assistant position at a school in a top conference. I am acquainted with the other assistant there, but right now it’s an all-male staff. I’m pretty sure they’ll be looking to bring in a female to fill that vacancy.

A potentially enticing assistant job was posted recently that has given me pause. It’s in a top conference for a very experienced and well-respected head coach. The problem is it’s a volunteer job. Hard to think about a year with no income given they want someone to start right away and make a 12-month commitment. Plus, as a volunteer you get no off-campus recruiting experience, which is a major consideration in going after other jobs. Actually, a couple of those sorts of jobs have now been listed.

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – Jan 15, 2015

It wasn’t my original intention to post a log entry today as I’ve got one lined up for tomorrow. I feel the need to let loose a bit of a rant, though, with regards to the behavior of a certain human resources group. Let me present you a comparative scenario.

I applied for assistant coach posted vacancies at both Minnesota and Georgetown, neither job of which I will be landing. You can make whatever case you like about my prospects, qualifications, etc. for either position. That’s not the point of this particular post. My focus here is in how I was treated as an applicant.

On I received the following from the Georgetown head coach:

Dear Mr. Forman:

We appreciate your interest in Georgetown University and the position of Assistant Volleyball Coach for which you applied. After reviewing the applications, yours was not selected for further consideration.

The selection committee appreciates the time you invested in your application. We wish you every personal and professional success with your job search and in the future. Thank you, again, for your interest in our company.


Arlisa Williams

It’s a pretty standard rejection letter. The “our company” bit at the end gives the strong impression of a copy/paste job. No big deal, though. I may be disappointed, but I respect the fact that they let me know I was not going to be in the running.

Here’s an email I received today from a “Human Resources Generalist” at Minnesota:

Thank you for your application for the position of Assistant Women’s Volleyball Coach in the Athletics Department at the University of Minnesota.  Your interest in Gopher Athletics is appreciated.  We want to inform you that the position has been filled.

Best of luck in your future professional endeavors and thank you again for your interest in the University of Minnesota.

On the face of it, also a reasonable note. It doesn’t bother me that it didn’t come from Coach McCutcheon. Here’s what does bother me. The hiring of a new assistant coach was announced publicly more than a week ago!

Only slightly better was the automated email I got from Nevada, Reno with respect to the head coach position there:

Applications have been reviewed carefully and after considerable deliberation, the number of candidates has been narrowed. Unfortunately, your application was not one selected for further consideration at this time.  We appreciate your interest in employment at University of Nevada, Reno.

That one only came two days after the hiring announcement.

I honestly find this sort of thing insulting, and maybe unprofessional as well. If I’m taking the time to apply for the job – which is no instant thing – then I’m damn sure paying attention to developments related to this. Do you think I don’t know the job’s been filled? It would be one thing if this was still the days of printed letters and postal delivery. It’s not. You can send out rejection emails as soon as a decision is made.

I’m not sure if it’s better or worse to hear nothing at all.

Am I being overly harsh here?

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – Jan 9, 2015

Had a piece of news yesterday which potentially changes things. I found out that barring an administrative overrule by my department my PhD funding, which is what I’m living on, will halt once I do my initial thesis submission. The path to the degree is 1) initial submission, 2) viva (defense) which must happen within three months, then 3) final submission, the timing of which depends on the feedback from the viva. In other words, there can still be a fair bit of time between initial submission and final.

I will speak with my supervisor about this, but if initial thesis submission means the end of my funding then it changes the timeline I’m working on. The basic plan I had in mind was to go after NCAA coaching jobs now (and moving forward), to explore professional jobs come March/April when that season ends if nothing has come up already on the NCAA front, and should I still be without a position heading into the summer I could either look for something outside coaching or pursue a volunteer position for the Fall season.

Definitely some stuff to think about. I could potentially drag the PhD thesis submission process out for a few months, but probably no longer than late Spring. We shall see.

Bringing things back to the present …

The first of the positions I applied for that has been filled (as far as I’ve seen) is the Minnesota assistant job. No real argument with the hire in terms of apparent credentials. I was never contacted.

I asked a contact of mine about a head coach job I put in for. He gave me some local intelligence on where the program and funding are at, frustrations of the last coach (who resigned), etc. He also said he thought they were looking to hire a female coach. Common story. Might be a bit more intelligence forthcoming.

An assistant coach job was posted recently that had me debating whether to apply. It’s in a good conference, so from that perspective I’d probably be otherwise inclined to give it a shot. My concern, however, is the nature of the school and its values. I’m not saying it’s bad or anything. It’s just different from my own and I have serious doubts as to how well I would fit in.

Also heard about another assistant position. Small conference, very low ranked team, but in a geographically desirable area. I reached out directly to the coach to see if they would consider me a candidate. He’s asked me to send a resume. If it’s the right fit I’d definitely consider it.

Another assistant position has also been indicated as open in Division II. Also in a good area geography-wise. It’s a combined role, but the pay only falls in the low $20s. Hard to justify taking something in that low a range for a job at a lower level that isn’t likely to offer the sort of longer-term career benefits I would seek from an assistant job.

Rumors are swirling about some of the higher profile head coach jobs having been filled, or nearly so. That will start some dominos tumbling in the weeks ahead.

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log

Over the last couple of seasons I have kept a volleyball coaching log documenting what I’ve done with my teams in training, matches, etc. It stimulated some conversation, was a useful exercise for me, and hopefully was something readers found useful and/or interesting. Now that I am no longer coaching actively and am in the process of looking for a new coaching job, I figured it could be a useful and potentially informative exercise to maintain a journal of that process. This, therefore, will be the first entry in that log.

By way of a starting point, I’ve posted my working resume online here. Feel free to have a look, offer comments and/or suggestions.

Although later on I may consider pursuing a coaching position in Europe in the professional ranks, at this point my focus is on NCAA coaching jobs, particularly on the women’s side as this is the time of year when those start to open up. The pro season won’t finish until March/April. A number of US jobs have already been posted, as you can see at the NCAA and Indeed websites. More openings will certainly be announced now that the holidays have passed and athletic departments work through their reviews. Also, as jobs get filled they will invariably open up others, creating a domino effect. This has already happened with the notable hirings at Baylor and TCU seeing vacancies open at Florida State and West Virginia respectively.

Thus far I have applied for more than 20 positions. The majority are head coaching jobs, mainly at the Division I level. I am also willing to consider assistant coaching jobs and have applied for several of them as well.

At this point I’m reluctant to name the schools to which I have submitted applications while the process is on-going. If a reasonable argument can be made why I should, maybe I’ll reconsider. I will, however, share outcomes in terms of commenting on the results of the applications I’ve submitted once the process has been worked through.

In any case, I’m taking a fairly shotgun approach. By that I mean my mentality is more of trying to potentially create options than going after only specific types of jobs. Partly that’s just me liking the idea of flexibility. Largely, though, it’s a function of not being sure what sort of interest my resume will attract. Being away from NCAA volleyball for several years is a bit of a drawback in that regard.

On the plus side, thus far as I’ve seen none of the jobs I’ve applied for to-date have been filled. That will start changing soon, however.

I did not apply for either Baylor or TCU, by the way. 😉

On a related note, over the weekend I submitted the first complete draft of my PhD thesis to my supervisors. Major step toward finishing my degree.

My 2014 volleyball coaching year in review

It’s that time of year again – time to look back on the 12 months which have gone by. In this post I want to take a more personal view of things. I’ll follow up with a report on how the blog has done for the year.

Team Coaching
This is going to be a year I always look back fondly upon from a coaching perspective because of the run the Exeter University women made to the BUCS national semifinals. I’ve coached league and tournament championship teams, but this one was really special. More than being something no one ever expected, it was also the culmination of a season in which a group of young women committed themselves to a common goal at the start and remained steadfast to it throughout.

More than that, the whole experience of Final 8s in Edinburgh was amazing. The men and women supported each other fantastically. The guys may not have had the best year, or even their best tournament overall, but they pulled off the upset in their final match of the season to make it all worthwhile. It was a very happy bus full of volleyball players for the long ride back to Exeter! The women later went on to have a very respectable South West Championships tournament to round out their season.

The 2014-15 BUCS season has been much more of a struggle. Part of that is a function of playing in a stronger league now that both teams are in the new Premier division. Part of it was my need to concentrate much more on my PhD work to the detriment of volleyball. Part of it on the women’s side was the lack of an experienced setter in the squad. These things happen in sports. Not every season is a good one and it was always going to be hard to follow up on 2013-14.

Coaching Development
A definite on-going theme for me in 2014 was my continued education and development as a volleyball coach. I completed the requirements for my Volleyball England Level 3 coaching certification (in record time, I was told). I also got my USA Volleyball CAP II re-certified. Part of the process for both was attending some general coaching seminars, as well as attending Volleyball England’s annual coaching conference.

Perhaps most significantly, though, I gained quite a bit of exposure to professional volleyball. It started with a visit to Berlin in April to watch BR Volleys, coached by Mark Lebedew of At Home on the Court, train ahead of the German championships (which they went on to win). Then, with Mark’s help, I was able to spend about 10 days each with a pair of teams during their preseason training in August. As I wrote, it was a great experience and really expanded my knowledge of the sport.

Other Stuff
During the summer I helped out at trials for the English girls cadet and juniors national teams. That gave me the opportunity to further develop my contacts at that level and to see how some of the talent pathway designs I’ve heard about were being put into practice. I also consulted with the Volleyball England Technical and Talent Director, Audrey Cooper, on the subject of US collegiate volleyball recruiting for up and coming English players.

In terms of something with more of a forward-looking focus, the latter part of the year saw me start applying for coaching jobs back in the States. No doubt this is something I’ll document more in the weeks ahead as I work my way through the process. At this point it’s still relatively early days.

Beyond volleyball
The main focus of my life aside from volleyball the last year has been, of course, my PhD. It was a pretty productive year from that perspective. I got a lot accomplished, especially in the latter Spring and over the summer, that set me up to be able to (hopefully) be able to submit my thesis in the next few weeks or so. By the end of 2015 you’ll have to call me Dr. Forman. 🙂

Stoked for the next round of NCAA matches

The NCAA Championships continue this weekend with the Round of 16 on Friday and the Elite 8 on Saturday. ESPN has all the coverage, which means for online viewing it will be WatchESPN for those in the States and ESPNPlayer for those of us abroad.

Here are the match-ups for Friday:

05:00 PM ET #2 Texas #15 vs. Colorado State
05:00 PM ET #4 Wisconsin vs. Ohio State
06:00 PM ET #1 Stanford vs. Oregon State
07:00 PM ET #5 Penn State vs. #12 UCLA
07:00 PM ET #7 North Carolina vs. #10 Oregon
07:00 PM ET #6 Florida State vs. BYU
08:00 PM ET #8 Florida vs. #9 Illinois
09:30 PM ET #3 Washington vs. #14 Nebraska

I think the Washington-Nebraska and Penn State-UCLA will probably get a lot of attention seeing as they’re match-ups of former champions. I will be interested to see how North Carolina does against Oregon. The Oregon offense is quite fun to watch – very fast!

You can see the full bracket here.

Prowling the volleyball coaching job market

I mentioned on social media last week that I started the process of seeking a full-time volleyball coaching after an eight year hiatus.

Actually, technically I wasn’t full-time in my last NCAA coaching position as it was a 2/3 equivalency. That fact was contributory to my absence from coaching for almost six years. I was broke and had to go back into my former profession in the financial markets where I could make a lot more money to get my finances cleaned up.

It took me about five years to finally pay off all my personal debts (and then a couple more for my credit rating to be fully restored). During that time I literally forced myself to stay away from volleyball aside from watching the occasional match on TV. I was afraid it would suck me back in and upset my financial reclamation efforts. Given how quickly the coaching bug got hold of me again in England, that fear was justified!

Why now?

I timed my plunge back into the full-time coaching market for now based on a couple of factors.

First, my PhD funding runs out in August. I need to be done with my doctoral work by then. That actually means submitting my dissertation at latest in February because there’s up to 3 months from then to my defense (Viva) and potentially up to another 3 months to make corrections before final submission. I personally targeted December/January for initial submission, which now looks to be January.

Second, this time of year is when a lot of coaching jobs in the States open up because it’s the end of the women’s collegiate season (the Division I championships will conclude next weekend). Now is when contracts are not renewed, coaches resign or retire, etc. Schools are particularly eager to fill head coach vacancies relatively quickly. They want to have someone in place to recruit and work with the team through the Spring semester.

The options

As I mentioned above, I’m funded through the Summer. As a result, there’s no actual need for me to rush into things. I can be patient from that perspective. In fact, there are really three potential career paths at this point.

With a PhD I can obviously go the academic route. I could also return to the financial industry. Either one of those choices would be quite lucrative, and I have not entirely ruled either out. The reason coaching volleyball tops my list, though, is the lifestyle suits me better. I’m physically fitter and healthier as a coach. And of course I find it very rewarding. I probably won’t make as much money in coaching, but I think my overall situation will be better.

Within coaching there are a couple of ways I can go. The most obvious is a return to the States and rejoin the collegiate coaching ranks. The other is to enter into the professional volleyball arena. I gained some nice exposure to back in August (see Three weeks in professional volleyball). I am considering both options. Unfortunately, the European professional season runs until March/April. That makes it less than ideal from the perspective of parallel job searches.

Head vs Assistant Coach

At this point I think a head coaching job is probably the best option. Given my experience, how my coaching has matured, and where I’m at in my life generally it seems to make the most sense. To the latter point, I’m no Spring chicken. My long-term finances must be on my mind at this stage. I can’t afford a lengthy period of low pay. My lifestyle isn’t particularly lavish. I don’t require a large salary from that perspective. I do need to be able to save toward retirement, though.

In the US it would be no problem to take over a program as head coach. I spent 7 years in Division I. During my time at Brown I was involved in all aspects of running the program (which is what happens with a small coaching staff). Every position is different, of course. I am confident, however, that even after the time away I’ll be able to work effectively in that system once again.

My expectations in that regard are realistic, though, I think. I can’t imagine I’m a strong candidate for a head coach position in one of the big conference schools. I wasn’t an assistant at that level and don’t have NCAA head coaching experience. Not that the postings for those jobs list those credentials. The candidate pool will certainly reflect it, though. My prospects are better in the more middling and lower ranks of Division I, or in Division II.

I won’t rule out the assistant coach route, though. In the States it would be all about the situation. I have no problem being a long-term assistant in a good location with an enjoyable working environment. In terms of something that was meant to improve my credentials as a potential head coach, however, I would have to confine myself to looking at only upper level positions. A middling or lower level one wouldn’t do much for me, either in terms of my resume or my own development as a coach. Been there, done that. Professionally, being an assistant would definitely be developmental with regards to that system.

What am I looking for?

On a certain level beggars can’t be choosers. That’s my volleyball coaching candidacy at this stage. From a professional perspective, I’m largely an unknown quantity, though my US coaching helps. From an NCAA job perspective, being away from that system for a while now doesn’t help. I have head coach experience in England, with a good bit of success to boot. Alas, I don’t know how that will be judged. I also have potentially useful international contacts, but that is something which might only matter to a relative few.

From my own perspective, I’d like to end up at a place where I can build something – or help build it if in an assistant role. That means I am somewhere the opportunity to work toward success exists. It doesn’t bother me to start at a low point and work up from there. I just need to see how thing can growing and improve over time. A place where management was happy with the status quo and unsupportive of my trying to elevate things is not what I am after.

I told friends I wish the opportunity existed for me to stay with the Exeter University volleyball program. We’ve already had considerable success. This is especially true compared to the relative difference in support received by our competition. There’s plenty more to do. I can see so many ways to make it stronger – to make it potentially one of the truly elite programs in the U.K. That is the sort of situation I want to find moving forward. Unfortunately, the opportunity for me to stay in Exeter doesn’t exist, so I have to try to find something similar elsewhere.

A defacto U.S. professional volleyball league?

A while back via Facebook and Twitter I shared a link to a brief article from Coaching Volleyball magazine. That’s published by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). Actually, it was less an article and more a letter to the membership from AVCA Executive Director Kathy DeBoer. In it she shares her thoughts on the potential future of NCAA volleyball. In particular, Kathy is concerned about the move toward a college structure where five conferences stand apart from everyone else in terms of money and resources. I won’t go into the back story behind all this. I’ll just say it’s mainly driven by football and men’s basketball, but has the potential to influence all sports.

My general feeling on these sorts of things is change is inevitable. We simply have to adapt to the new conditions. NCAA women’s volleyball has the advantage of being in quite a strong situation at the moment. Even men’s volleyball is making some gains. Volleyball at the high school level is the top girls’ sport in most states, with participation on the rise. As a result, I don’t think there’s a big risk of changes at the top of the collegiate hierarchy putting the sport in jeopardy. In fact, the reality of the current state of affairs is we already have a major divide.

The split is already there

As of this writing, the last time a school from outside the so-called Power 5 conferences (Pac-12, Big-10, Big-12, ACC, SEC) won the national championship was 1998. That’s when Long Beach did it. In fact, since then only once has a team from outside the Pac-12 and Big-10 won. That’s Texas. Taking it a step further, Long Beach in 2001 is the only lesser conference school to have even made the finals in that time. A couple of others have managed to reach the Final 4, though – (Hawai’i, Pacific, Santa Clara).

To put a finer point on it, among the Power 5, representation from three conferences at even the Final 4 stage has been scant. Since 1998 the SEC has only had three entries (Florida x 2, Tennessee), and the ACC just one (Florida State). Nebraska and Texas have done fairly well for the Big-12, but the Huskers are now in the Big-10, leaving the Longhorns as the only current Big-12 team ever to have made the Final 4.

In other words, we have a fairly narrow collection of teams contending for the national championship in any given year. That leaves a whole lot of teams playing for much smaller stakes. For the vast majority of the 320 or so Division I teams, a conference title is about as high as they are likely to ever reach. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with that. The same is true in other sports. Actually, we could say we currently have a better situation these days. Back in the 80s and 90s only a relatively small group of West Coast teams dominated.

Is college volleyball already professional?

What struck me reading Kathy’s thoughts, though, was that the top level of the sport is moving toward what we can view as a defacto professional league. We may really already be there! We can make a case that giving individuals scholarships to play volleyball is essentially a professional situation. Schools compensate student-athletes in some fashion because they are athletes. This is particularly so given the price tag of modern education. Paying players above and beyond that, though, would put things into a different category. That is especially true when considering the other perks players at the top schools get in terms of support.

There are many similarities between NCAA collegiate volleyball and the experience of pro players at clubs in Europe and elsewhere. I wrote about it after spending time with a pair of clubs in Germany, That is only furthered if the top conferences continue to channel more resources into their programs.

Note: Business Insider posted a list of the top 20 university sports programs. It is based on athletics revenue, NCAA championship results, home football and men’s basketball attendance, and student survey responses. Interestingly, only two of those 20 schools has ever won a volleyball championship. Just seven have reached the Final 4.