Yesterday was my last at Radford University.

You may recall I started there in July of last year in a return to NCAA Division I coaching. We had a good season in ’22, all things considered. While there was certainly disappointment in not reaching the postseason (missed out due to a tiebreaker), the program won more games – overall and in conference – than it did the two seasons prior. We had a good Spring worth of training and like the recruits lined up to join the team for next season.

I will not be around to see it, though, as I’m moving on to a really interesting new challenge.

Where I’m going

In a manner of speaking – especially from the perspective of this blog – I’m going back to the beginning. I started this site as a resource for coaches there while I was coaching in England at the University of Exeter. That time I was over there to do my PhD. Coaching was something I did on the side – though it clearly became a big thing! This time, volleyball is the thing taking me there.

That’s right. I’m moving back to England. Specifically, I’m going to work for Volleyball England – the national governing body (like USA Volleyball in the States). I will be a Strategy Manager there, with responsibility for what they call the Talent Programmes. That’s their pipeline system for the various national teams – indoor, beach, and sitting.

This is from the job posting:

Volleyball England is recruiting a Strategic Manager to oversee our talent system and networks as part of the organisation’s 10-year strategy, The Game Plan.

This key role leads on the planning, delivery and evaluation of training and competitions across the pathway. England has senior, U19 and U17 squads for indoor volleyball and senior and junior squads for beach volleyball.

Critically, the role will develop a culture of continuous improvement across pathways and programmes to drive strategic progression and change within the organisation and sport.

Basically, it’ll be my job to get the Programmes in position to consistently identify and develop the kind of players required for the England national teams (and by extension Team GB) to be internationally competitive on a consistent basis. Definitely a challenge one can sink their teeth into!

Why make this move?

So why this job? And why England?

I’ll take the second part first. I definitely developed an affinity for English volleyball while I was over there. I came to know a bunch of people, and have gotten to know even more since. It’s kind of surprising how many, actually. Aside from that, I enjoyed living in England, and have looked for opportunities to return. Nothing materialized until now, though.

As for why, I can address that on two levels. The first is something I’ve mentioned to readers of my weekly newsletter. I’m to the point where I want to be able to impact things on a larger scale than is possible coaching a single team. Yes, this blog does that in one way. It’s not the same as overseeing a whole country’s talent identification and development system, though.

The other level is the actual work I’ll be doing. While certainly far from the only part of the job, a BIG feature of it will be coach development. You can do great bringing loads of kids into the volleyball pipeline, but if you don’t have enough good coaches you’re not going to get very far. Developing coaches is obviously something I’m passionate about, so I’m excited to get to work.

Will I keep coaching?

At this point it’s too early to say whether I’ll continue coaching. Certainly, it won’t be the day-to-day type of coaching as I’ve been doing the last few years at Radford and Medaille. It would have to be more of a part-time thing. I’ll definitely look at it as a possibility once I get settled in, though. There are some different options I could pursue.

What about this blog?

Don’t worry. This blog isn’t going anywhere. If anything, the work I do for Volleyball England could be a real benefit to what I’m aiming to do in coaching education more broadly.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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