Archive for Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – July 23, 2018

Even before I found out I was not selected to be the head coach at Midwestern State I had my eye on things and some feelers out – just in case. As a result, I was right into gear in exploring my future options. Of course, at this time of year things are getting pretty thin. The length of the MSU hiring process didn’t do me any favors in that regard.

Not sure if it’s necessarily a good thing, but I took a fairly wide perspective on what I might do next. I could pursue a head coach position somewhere. I could try for an assistant job. With my PhD, a job in academia was on the table. Maybe I could focus more on the business side of things.

Then too, there was the question of location. Do I look overseas again? Or do I stay in the States? There are pluses and minuses to both options.

Head Coach – US

The head job at Division II Lake Erie was open when it came time to start my job search in earnest. I was a little late to it, but I figured it was worth a shot anyway, especially after one of my former men’s players at Exeter said he’d heard good things about it from a friend. The funny thing was the outgoing head coach’s name is Foeman.

I also heard that Chesnut Hill College, also in Division II, had a vacancy. No job posting was up, but I did send me resume to the Athletic Director for possible consideration. I heard a little bit later, though, that the A.D. was on their way out as well, so it seemed like things were in a muddle. Eventually, a posting did go up, but it was listed as a part-time job, so I didn’t apply. I’m not sure how that’s even possible for a D2 head coach job – unless there’s some weird accounting or configuration.

In late June or early July the head job at Maryville posted. That’s also a Division II program, one MSU played in 2017. This is a program that’s been pretty weak in recent years, albeit in one of the strongest conferences in the country. The last couple of coaches have been young and inexperienced. I hesitated to apply because of that, but they have a new A.D. – one who actually has meaningful coaching experience. So on the off chance they’d be willing to change it up and go with someone more experienced, I applied. As of this update, I have had no reply.

In the early-middle part of July Newman posted for a new head coach. Again, we’re talking a Division II program that MSU played in 2017. Newman is actually where the prior MSU coach came from back in 2015. This one is an interesting situation in that they are the only Heartland Conference team not joining the Lone Star Conference in 2019. They instead will join the MIAA. Geographically it makes better sense. I’d heard good things about the A.D., so I applied. As of this update, I’ve had no reply.

Assistant Coach – US

The assistant job at Division I South Florida was posted in mid-May. It struck me as a place where I could really contribute, so I applied. I got the “thanks, but we’re going with someone else” email in June 11th. It was rather amazing to find out the guy they hired had only high school and club experience.

I reached out to a high level Division I coach to see if they needed a volunteer assistant for the coming year. There wasn’t one listed on the roster, and it was a program that’s long interested me. Unfortunately, they were already all set in that position.

Interestingly, an assistant job at Kansas was posted the first week of June. They got two new assistants early in 2018, so this development was very unusual. I applied. Since they were losing a female assistant, however, and it was a male head coach, I knew the prospects weren’t great.

UC Irvine also posted for an assistant coach. The head coach there is a younger female, who interestingly played professional volleyball in Germany and Croatia in cities I’ve actually visited.

Overseas

On May 15th the news hit that the head coach of the Polonia men’s team in London was leaving. I’d had interactions with one of the guys involved in the club before, so I reached out to him. He ended up asking me to send him my CV, which I did. I was not the first choice candidate, however. I heard from one of my contacts in England a couple days later that he’d been offered the job, though at the time he was debating his decision. He did eventually accept.

Actually, that same coach went on to strongly recommend me for the job he vacated at the University of Nottingham. Unfortunately, that was only going to be a part-time position, so it wasn’t going to work for me.

A couple of different contacts mentioned potential opportunities to coach in the German 2nd division. On May 22nd I sent an email to one of them on the women’s side – SV Bad Laer. That’s a small club in western Germany with a strong regional focus. Their 1st team plays in the northern part of the 2nd division. They are looking for a new coach for that team, who will also help with at the lower levels.

Academic

I applied for a post-doctoral position at the University of Warwick in England (not actually in Warwick, but rather in Coventry). My lead PhD supervisor recently moved there from Exeter where I got my degree and told me about it. Coincidentally, my initial lead supervisor moved there after my first year at Exeter. I didn’t make the short list, though.

Interviewing – Lake Erie

As noted above, I was a little late applying. It was to the point that I heard shortly after I did that they were already setting up interviews. So I didn’t expect much. Then I got an email from their HR in the last week of May asking me to submit a reference contact permission form. I thought maybe that was just pro forma, so I was surprised to get a call from the AD early on May 31st. She said the search committee told her they wanted to evaluate me further. Her role at that point was to give me some information about the school and the athletics department there. It basically anticipated a lot of questions that likely would come up. She did not interview me, but rather set up one for me with the search committee the following day.

That interview was perhaps the shortest I’ve ever had – only about 20 minutes. It started with a behavioral question asking me to talk about a time when I had to do something outside my job description. From there they asked me about my thoughts on academics and athletics on a small campus, plus my experience fund raising, managing budgets, handling scholarships, and interacting with trainers. They then gave me a chance to ask my own questions. Finally, the current grad assistant asked me two volleyball-specific questions. The first was my coaching philosophy. The second was to describe a typical practice.

About a week later the A.D. invited me to interview on campus on June 13th. So I went up and met with a whole bunch of staff, including the president. I also met with most, if not all, of the team – with three being included via Face Time. The AD told me there was one more candidate interviewing early the following week. After that they planned to make their decision in short order. Four weeks later the process was still, apparently, on-going. I saw some indications along the way that a couple others were offered the job ahead of me. At least one had turned it down. Rumor was then that they’d decided to interim the job for now and start over after the season. Then rumor indicated a new hire is about to be announced. Either way, I’ve heard nothing despite emailing the A.D. a couple weeks ago.

Interviewing – SV Bad Laer

About a week after I emailed the club I heard back from one of the senior coaches there, and on May 31st we did a Skype call as a kind of preliminary conversation. He answered some questions from me about the club, but only really asked me about my language skills and when I’d been to Germany before in return.

The coach I spoke with told me a conversation would follow with the club’s general manager. He was the one who’d make the decision. That never came to pass, though. On June 21st I received an email saying the club found their new coach. It wasn’t me.

Thinking about possible options

We’re obviously getting very close to the point where college teams in the US will be starting preseason. So that window is rapidly closing. At the same time, I’m not seeing a lot of realistic overseas opportunities. That being the case, I’m giving a lot of thought to what I could do over the next few months ahead of the start of the next college hiring cycle beginning in November/December. That assumes I don’t turn my attentions in another direction, of course.

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – May 16, 2018

I haven’t been on the job market since taking the position at Midwestern State (MSU). I decided to re-enter after the 2017 season. It wasn’t a situation where I needed to find a new job as it was in early 2016 when I left Sweden, or back in 2015 when I was getting ready to finish my time in England. This was more about looking to see if there was anything interesting out there. If so, put my hat in the ring for consideration.

Tentative initial foray

I actually did my first application for the head coach position at Fort Hays State. That’s a Division II school in Kansas. I haven’t coached against them, but in the last couple years MSU has played against some of the other teams in their conference. The former head coach resigned very early in the season. As a result, they opened the job up ahead of the normal cycle. I got the “Thanks for your interest…” email in mid-December, which was fine. I wasn’t entirely sure I’d want the job if offered. I’d have made my decision based on what I saw of the campus, facilities, people, etc.

Getting more serious

The second job I put in for was at Brown in late November. As you may know, I was assistant coach there from 2001 to 2006. The head coach I worked for then announced her retirement after 25 years. I’ve always had thoughts about returning to the Ivy League to coach if the chance ever came. They never responded, though, and announced a hire in late January.

Shortly after Brown I also applied to Boston College and Georgetown. Neither are teams with much history of success. There are significant questions as to the degree of support they are given. Why would I be interested in either job? Honestly, it has a lot to do with the schools themselves. Both are high caliber academic institutions in good locations. It’s the sort of environment I feel like I would really like to work in long-term. Both filled their positions in early January.

Along a similar line is DePaul. I applied there in early December. I heard through the grapevine relatively shortly afterwards, though, that they were already talking to candidates. That was confirmed by the email I got just before Christmas saying, “We have reviewed your credentials and have carefully considered your qualifications. While your skills are certainly impressive, unfortunately we have decided to pursue other candidates at this time for this position.” That’s one of the more pleasant rejection notes I’ve seen.

I also applied to another Ivy League school in February – Penn. Columbia was looking for a new head coach as well, but I have no desire to live in NYC. I actually saw something in mid-March indicating Penn had sent out “thanks, but no thanks” emails already, though I hadn’t received one yet. It did eventually come near the end of March.

A couple of alternative targets

I applied in mid-December for the head coach job at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). The school doesn’t have the same academic reputation as the others I listed above, but it’s in an interesting part of the country. I did my grad school not too far away, so I’m familiar with the area. They filled the position in mid-February.

At the same time I applied to UMBC, I also put in for the head job at Arkansas Tech. This is a Division II program where the head coach stepped down after a pretty successful time at the helm. In 2017 they were 35-1 with their only loss coming in the NCAA tournament at the hands of one of the best teams in the country. I went back and forth on this one. The location isn’t something that got me excited. I also wondered what the upside could be. They aren’t in a great conference and have the misfortune of having one of the country’s best conferences in their NCAA Region. Yes, you can win a lot of matches if you do well, but for someone like me it would be a stepping-stone type of job – not a long-term situation. The position was filled in late January by an alum.

In February I applied for another Division II position – Fort Lewis, located in Colorado This is a team in the same NCAA Region as MSU. One of the motivating factors was the (now former) MSU women’s soccer coaching moving there. He’d actually coached at Fort Lewis before coming to MSU and was basically going home as far as he and his family was concerned. Fort Lewis is not a fully funded program, meaning in order get the full 8 scholarships allowed in Division II the coach needs to raise funds. They haven’t had a winning record in at least 10 years, but men’s soccer won a national championship, so competitiveness is doable.

A place I thought I’d really like

In the category of “I think I’d really like coaching there” jobs is the College of William & Mary. It is a school with a strong academic reputation and in an appealing part of the country to me. The program doesn’t have much of a history of success, however. The last winning season was 2009. They were bottom of the conference in both 2016 and 2017, and haven’t finished above 7th (of 9) since 2012. No response, even after the A.D. at MSU reached out to their A.D. on my behalf. The MSU A.D. was actually a bit annoyed that he never got a response. They announced a new hire in the latter part of January.

A local twist

Then an interesting, but not entirely unexpected thing happened.

When she returned from the holiday break, the MSU head coach announced her resignation effective at the end of January. She is married with an infant, but her husband (a basketball coach) worked in California. She spent the semester break out there with him and liked actually being a family. That might have accelerated a change that was probably coming before too much longer anyway.

It took the university until March 27th to finally post the position, so it was a rather lengthy process. I got a lot of questions from all angles about what was going on, as you might imagine. Naturally, I put in my application right away. The posting remained open for only the required 12 days.

Interviewing

In early March did a phone interview with Fort Lewis (I talk about one of the questions I got here). They told me at the time that they planned to move quickly as they currently had no volleyball staff. Through the interview it was clear they were thinking first about fit, which is not uncommon for a smaller school. I received an email about two weeks later that they’d filled the position. I was neither surprised nor hurt that I didn’t progress. So long as I was a real candidate for the MSU job, it would always be hard for me to accept a job for a less well-funded program, at a smaller school.

I got a call from MSU Human Resources on April 13th – while I was at team sand practice – to schedule my interview on April 19th for the head job. It wasn’t supposed to be the case, but mine ended up be the first because of someone’s getting rescheduled. They brought three others to campus the following week.

My interview featured four separate meetings. The first was the main search committee, as I understand it. The A.D. was there, along with the Athletics faculty liaison, the women’s basketball coach, our head trainer, and a booster who is also a local area volleyball coach. I then had lunch with two of the administrators, after which it was back for a second bigger meeting, That one featured our head strength coach, our department academic coordinator, and our sports information director as the primary questioners. The fourth and final meeting was with the team. The academic coordinator was in the room, but strictly in an observer capacity. She gave them a list of prepared questions they could use, but they also mixed in ones of their own.

Outcome

There were three other candidates interviewing for the MSU head coach position. One was an junior college coach from the region, another was a former area junior college coach currently assisting at the NCAA Division I level, while the third was an NCAA Division II coach from the region. The last of the interviews was on April 27th. We expected a decision the following week, but it didn’t come.

I finally found out my fate on May 11th. The Athletic Director gave me the bad news. Some conversations I had with him prior tipped me off that I wasn’t clearly the top choice, so mentally I had prepared myself for this outcome. This is despite acknowledgement from the A.D. that no one could touch me from an administrative/organizational perspective. That didn’t mean I was pleased, though. Head coaches from other teams in the conference were stunned. One went so far as to say, “Definitely a mistake on their part.”

After some probing, I learned a perceived comparative disadvantage in recruiting was the reason I wasn’t top choice. It seemed that I was given no credit for the freshmen we brought in this year (my first recruiting class), or for those we have signed to bring in next school year. Of course, it’s too early to say how those classes will turn out, but it’s been well-acknowledged in the Athletic Department that the caliber of athlete we have in the gym now is a significant upgrade. I was the member of staff who was out recruiting more than anyone else the last two years because I was the only one on staff who never had a juniors coaching schedule conflict (or pregnancy). Did they think only the head coach, or only our other assistant, handled recruiting?

And of course there’s also the fact that I had documented success recruiting in other places before coming here. That seems to have been ignored.

Moving forward

I made it clear to the A.D. at MSU that if I were not selected to be the next head coach I would move on. As I told him, I need to continue to develop as a coach in my own right, and staying on at MSU under someone else is very unlikely to provide that opportunity. I’m to the point in my career where I either need to run my own program or work for someone with significantly more experience – or be in a different environment all together.

The big advantage to being the “local” candidate for the head job at MSU is that while I may not have gotten the job, at least I got some meaningful feedback about how I presented my candidacy. The A.D. told me I did very well in my interviews. Clearly, though, I need to hit the recruiting element harder when I present myself – at least in situations where that is relevant.

So, the search is on-going at this point.

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.

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – Feb 26, 2016

I got an update from the coach at the school in Texas that the hope was they’d be ready to make an offer soon – perhaps early next week.

Back in Europe?
Since the Texas position remains in limbo for the moment, I’ve stayed active in the job market – even to the point of applying for a potentially interesting non-volleyball position. I was in touch with one of my contacts in Germany on Sunday who asked me whether I would pursue a job in Europe. My response was that if nothing interesting developed on this side of the Atlantic over the next few weeks (basically until clubs started winding down their seasons and positions begin opening up), then I would consider it. The situation would have to look really good and interesting, though.

Camping
I’ve had a few conversations with one of my other coaching contacts in Germany about running a Summer camp over there. It’s something he’s interested in doing, though he has concerns about handling the logistics. In any case, the situation with his club is muddled at the moment. Things need to settle out before we could make any plans, which probably means we’re talking 2017. I have an idea for something Stateside that I’d want him involved in this Summer, though. Hopefully, more on that later. 😉

Other positions
I saw a posting for a potentially interesting job back over the weekend – a joint men’s and women’s position at the Division III level. There’s a definite appeal to being somewhere with both genders. It was a dynamic I really liked while coaching at Exeter. In this case the situation also involves building a program from scratch (men’s), which is the sort of challenge I’d like to take on. The problem is coaching both means you’re in-season almost the whole school year. That wouldn’t offer much opportunity to do some other things. Plus, it’s in a region I’m not overly keen on at this particular moment, and is a religiously oriented school, which likely wouldn’t be a good fit.

There was another head coach job for a religion-based school that I bypassed, and a couple others where I just wasn’t interested in the part of the country and/or the situation. I’m at the point where if I am going to be serious about a job, it needs to offer some things above and beyond just the opportunity to get paid for coaching volleyball. It’s kind of like when I decided to do my PhD in England. That had a lot to do with having a new type of experience and being able to grow in new ways as an individual.

A pair of other head coach jobs, though, were interesting enough for me to send off my resume. One was in Division I and the other in Division III. Very different parts of the country, and different from the other jobs I’ve applied for thus far. I’m not saying that either would necessarily be my dream job, but they made me want to have the discussion.

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – Feb 19, 2016

Following up on last week
I started the new week with some follow-up correspondence. As you may recall from my last entry, the Athletic Director at the school asked me to give some real thought as to whether the position would be a good fit for me. From a volleyball and coaching perspective, and from an overall work environment point of view, everything looked good to me – at least as best you can judge these things based on a couple of days. The big question mark in my mind was whether I’d enjoy living there. It’s the type of environment I’ve never lived in before, both in terms of climate and culture.

Since the interviews, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering that question and doing a bunch of research. As strange as this may sound, I looked at housing costs and car prices and general cost of living considerations. That’s obviously not the same as being feet on the ground and experiencing day-to-day life, but it definitely helped me feel more comfortable about the prospect of living there. Maybe I won’t be a huge fan of the climate or the environs, but I at least feel like I can carve out a pleasant existence there, which is key. I struggled with that in Sweden, which probably fed my apparent unhappiness there.

I should also note that I also had a few email and text exchanges with the head coach there after I left and over the weekend. Not really job-related stuff, though.

New application
On Monday I put in for a head coach position in Division I. Very different part of the country in this case My qualifications should be more than sufficient in multiple ways, but there is at least one potentially important factor which doesn’t work in my favor.

On Tuesday I also put in for another head coach position. This is for a Division II program in yet another different part of the country. I was in part motivated to do so by the fact that I think I crossed paths in England with the current assistant coach.

One that could be interesting
I also found out on Monday about a job in England that under a different circumstance I might go for. This one isn’t a coaching position, but rather is meant to work at the sub-senior national team level to coordinate the efforts of the senior academies, among other things. Seems like a position that could really help grow and develop the game there. Here’s what got posted by Volleyball England:

Working with partners in the University sector to establish a network of accredited talent development environments for players exiting junior academies including the delivery of existing Senior National Development Programmes for Indoor and Beach.

Coordinating the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme for Volleyball acting as the key point of contact for partner institutions and athletes.

Working with partners to develop senior domestic and international competition opportunities in Indoor and Beach ensuring that they meet the needs of developing talented players. 

We are looking for a candidate whose skills and experience include: 

  • Firsthand experience of talent pathways either as a participant, parent, coach or supporting staff.
  • Experience of managing projects/ partnerships with multiple external stakeholders.
  • Knowledge of sports agencies and stakeholders that contribute to the provision of performance sport in the UK (UK Sport, TASS, Sport England etc.).
  • Ability to meet deadlines, systematic approach to tasks with efficient time management skills including the ability to work under pressure. 

Unfortunately, my lack of UK/EU citizen ship and the fact that the completion of my PhD means the end of my student visa (and the potential to extend it now) makes me an unlikely prospect.

Other options
I of course kept my eye on the postings and considered which ones might be a good fit for me. Honestly, I’m being very picky. I won’t be rushing into things, especially since the recent completion of my PhD gives me options in other directions. I will seriously explore them if I don’t find something I really want to take on in the full-time coaching arena.

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – Feb 12, 2016

Monday’s Interview
I mentioned in my last update that I was returning to the States to interview for an assistant coaching job at a Division II program. It was actually a multi-day process. It started on Sunday when I was picked up by the head coach for the ride to campus and eventually lunch before getting dropped off at the hotel. We talked about a lot of coaching topics, as you might imagine.

Monday was the high intensity day with not just one interview, but several. My initial schedule looked like this:

10am: Tour of campus
11am: Meet with HR
12pm: Lunch with volleyball staff
1pm: Meet with women’s basketball coach
2pm: Meet with Senior Women’s Administrator
3pm: Meet other coaches on campus
5pm: Dinner with Athletic Director

The lunch was with the current 2nd/Grad Assistant and the Volunteer Assistant coaches.The SWA is actually the former head coach.

That last entry was a real surprise. I’d never have expected a dinner meeting with the A.D. for an assistant coach candidate.

A couple of other meetings with administrators actually got inserted along the way. One was the Associate A.D. and another was with the head of the department through which I would teach were I to land the job. Not surprisingly, I answered the same questions several times (especially “Why here?”). Long day, but it gave me a lot of exposure to the school and especially the Athletic Department.

You’ll notice no player meetings scheduled. The head coach debated my getting together with them as a full group after their morning strength and conditioning session vs. doing it in smaller groups on Tuesday when they came in for their on-court training. She ended up going with the latter because she thought the players would be more open and conversational in the smaller group situation.

Tuesday’s meetings
The result of the player meeting decision was that I met the team in groups of 3 and 4 on Tuesday after they got done with their small-group practices. The head coach had told them to look me up, so they had questions related to my experience – in particular what it was like coaching in Sweden. The groups were comprised of different mixes of players (one was all freshmen, one was all juniors, one multiple classes), so the other questions they asked and what we talked about varied.

In between the meetings I took a detour over to the business school. I spoke with the head of the Finance department about maybe doing some adjunct teaching. This would be in addition to the teaching requirement for this job – a volleyball activity class each semester.

After another lunch with the head coach, my final meeting on Tuesday was a follow-up 1-on-1 with the A.D. Basically, he just wanted me to think about whether the job and locale was a good fit. Made it sound like if I thought it was, then they would think so too. At least one more interviewee is scheduled to visit campus in about a week’s time, so there will be some time before anything could move forward.

Rest of the week
On Wednesday I flew to California. I’ll be hanging out in Long Beach for a while – probably until my next step is decided. Top priority – getting some rest after all the travel and getting my internal clock set to the right time zone!

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – Feb 5, 2016

Leaving Sweden
As you are probably aware, on Monday my contract with Svedala was terminated. I had already decided several weeks ago that I wouldn’t look to sign with Svedala for another season, so all the early exit did was move up my time line.

Coaching in Sweden was a worthwhile experience and I have absolutely no regrets about making that move. I just want to be somewhere I can do more program building – to have aspirations beyond “Do as well as you can this year”. That wasn’t looking like it was going to happen at Svedala – at least not within a reasonable time frame. It’s kind of the nature of the club’s current structure, and also Swedish volleyball more broadly. Just a personal thing at this point in my career. Nothing against either the club or volleyball in Sweden, there are a lot of people doing a lot of good work there.

Leaving professional volleyball
In January I further decided that continuing in European professional volleyball probably wasn’t going to be my path forward. The season is a long one and, as was the case when I was coaching at Exeter, I found my mind wanting to shift to other things around January. Perhaps that’s something that developed during my time coaching college ball in the States. At least at Exeter the feeling was moderated by my volleyball time commitment only being a couple of days, giving me more scope to do some other things. Obviously, with a professional club it’s at a higher level and intensity than that.

Along with the attention factor in my decision was my desire to be able to do things like go to the AVCA Convention and/or the USA Volleyball High Performance Coaches Clinic and other similar sorts of events. Because both of those in particular happen during the professional season, they aren’t doable in a professional coaching circumstance. If I were coaching back in the States it would be a different story, and with the added benefit of still being able to attend similar European events. Plus, as weird as this might sound, I always liked the recruiting side of things – getting out to different places, meeting people, and all that.

Being back in the States would also likely considerably boost my visibility and connectivity with the coaching community there and lead to opportunities I might not otherwise have. I could potentially get involved with national team programs, though I have some contacts in Europe that might allow me a similar opportunity overseas as well. Importantly, having a lesser in-the-gym and team travel commitment during part of the year will provide me more scope to work on my other projects, including academic research and publishing related to my PhD.

My path forward
The conclusion that I came to was that I should look to do one of two things – either look for a college coaching job back in the States or take a non-volleyball primary job and coach on the side. Given my new PhD credential, one possibility would be to find a teaching job and coach locally. I could also return to working in the finance industry, though that would likely have higher time demands, making coaching a bit more of a challenge.

Before Monday’s developments, it didn’t make a lot of sense applying for the US coaching jobs getting posted. No doubt those would want to be filled quickly to have people in place to be at work recruiting and the like. I figured I would probably have to wait until late February to start putting in applications where the hiring time line would more mesh with my need to stay in Sweden through April when my contract ended (coinciding with the end of playoffs). I did keep an eye on the market, though.

Obviously, that’s all changed now.

An early application
That said, I did apply for a job in December. It was the assistant position at a school where I have a connection. I hadn’t really intended to do so. I know the coach there from our days as competing assistants, and it would have been about working together with her as much as anything else. I didn’t figure the time line was going to work with my Svedala commitment, though. She encouraged me to apply – probably for HR purposes – which I did, but they clearly needed someone in more quickly.

Had I known how things were going to unfold, maybe the situation would have been different and I could have been a more realistic candidate. That job has since been filled.

A path unexpected
One potentially interesting development did come up in January, though. A contact from the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project put me in touch with an NCAA Division II coach looking for an assistant. Under normal circumstances, I probably wouldn’t have considered going for that kind of job, but my contact knows what I’m thinking and knows the coach in question well. She was of the belief that we would make a good team in a program with a lot of upside potential. Also, the position would offer me the flexibility to continue to pursue my other projects, which would be harder at a higher level program. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to talk.

I ended up having about an hour-long conversation with this coach last week. I’d already been talked up by my Wizards contact (something which always makes me a bit nervous), and the coach was impressed with what she’d read on this site. Her other assistants were young and relatively inexperienced, so she wanted to bring someone in at a higher level both in terms of organizational skills and knowledge and experience. She said she really wants someone she can bounce ideas off of and talk about things with at a higher level, as well as obviously carrying part of the administrative load for the program.

I think we both came away with positive thoughts about the conversation. I officially applied for the job the next day. She said she had two others she was looking at seriously and that initial interviews were likely to happen the following week or so. We’d talked about using Skype for that, since I wouldn’t really be able to go there any time soon. This was all with the understanding that I wouldn’t be able to start until May.

Clearly, with things changing on my side, my availability to interview on campus suddenly opened up. As a result, I’m headed there this weekend to interview on Monday. That will end my time in Sweden.

Services in demand
And I haven’t just gotten interest from the States. Yesterday morning I had someone email me about potentially taking over some coaching for a club in Norway. It was a tentative idea that wouldn’t have been a sure thing, but it was good to know that others value what I have to offer.

Volleyball Coaching Job Search Log – July 22, 2015

I’m transitioning from England to Sweden today, marking a number of meaningful changes in my life – not just from a coaching perspective. I think that makes it a good time to circle back for a quick update on what’s happened since I accepted the Svedala position early in June. Just because I’ve already got a new head coaching position, it doesn’t mean the correspondence with schools to which I applied has stopped. In the last several weeks I’ve received rejection emails from:

  • Tennessee (June 12th)
  • Auburn University at Montgomery (June 16th)
  • Miami (June 30th)
  • Jacksonville State (June 30th)
  • Texas A&M International (July 3rd)
  • Smith (July 6th)
  • Angelo State (July 8th)
  • UT Rio Grande Valley (July 16th)
  • UNC Charlotte (July 16th)

As you may recall from my earlier listing of all the jobs I applied for during the process, some of these positions I already knew had been filled. There remain a number I haven’t heard anything about thus far. Though to be fair, I haven’t really been paying close attention – as I’m sure you can imagine.

One of the more interesting developments was that shortly after accepting the Svedala job I found out about a UK university position that was opening up in London. Had the timing been different, I would have at least explored that option. I’m not sure if I would have been considered given my non-UK/EU status, but from a credentials and contacts perspective I have to think I would have at least been in the discussion.

On a separate, but related subject … I’ve found it interesting to think about what life might be like as a professional volleyball coach if I stick with it long-term. The primary coaching commitment is August/September to April. Unlike US collegiate volleyball, the administrative/recruiting demands outside of that are not large. This leaves considerable space and time for doing other things. Coaches seem to fill that with things like clinics and camps and national team coaching.

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.

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