This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for the 2020-21 season for both the men and women.

Today should have been the start of the return-to-play process here at Medaille. Unfortunately, because of some COVID cases cropping up on campus, yesterday that start got pushed back two weeks.

Player stuff

I had a meeting on Zoom with most of the players from both teams to talk program standards. Essentially, I went through a PowerPoint I developed. I am putting together a program handbook, and this material is a significant piece of that. There are more conversations coming in this subject area as I work on the culture of Medaille Volleyball. This, though, let me set the expectations for behavior now that we’re back on campus.

Somewhat amazingly, though not surprisingly, I lost all three seniors from the women’s team the first week of school. One found out she’s on track to graduate in December. One has immuno-compromised parents and was really worried about exposing them to COVID (she’s going to school entirely remotely). The third found herself overwhelmed at the prospect of a fairly chaotic Fall semester with respect to volleyball, on top of the normal demands of school and work.

On the plus side, we did add a transfer. Unfortunately, she has to do a year in residence before she’s eligible. The net result is that I currently have 8 on the women’s team, but only 7 who can play this season. I have no setter and only have one middle. A couple of potential walk-on/tryout candidates contacted me since school started. I can’t really look at them until we can get back in the gym, but maybe there will be some reinforcements.

Bringing in outside help

Last Friday I had my friend Ruben Wolochin from FINO Kaposvar (Hungary) speak to the men’s team about areas of self-focus. You may remember Ruben from the Coaching Conversation I did with him on Maximizing Performance from Limited Resources. This coming Friday it will be Mark Lebedew’s turn to talk about analyzing the opposition.

In the next couple weeks I will repeat these sessions for the women. Ruth Nelson will be in Ruben’s place, while Lauren Bertolacci will replace Mark. Lauren featured in the Team Building and Culture Development Conversation.

Recruiting

We’re now up to four recruits who’ve applied to Medaille for the women, three of which have already been accepted, and three for the men, all accepted. That’s still a long way from committed, but moving in the right direction.

The amazing thing is that we’ve got prospects from not just a all over the US on our active recruiting list, but from abroad as well! The Medaille teams could go from almost exclusively New York based to representing considerable geographic and cultural diversity. That would be very cool. At least I think so, anyway.

On the men’s side there’s the potential to add a couple of players to this year’s roster. We’ve heard from a prospective transfer, and there are 1-2 former players who could possibly return. That would definitely strengthen the team.

Defined goals for 2020-21

I had a meeting with the AD and Associate AD last week during which I was given a set of goals for the two teams this year. They were as follows.

  • Add 7 new incoming recruits for 2021 (with a roster target of 15)
  • 70% player retention at the team level
  • 90% player retention at the school level (meaning if players quit they stay at Medaille)
  • Team GPAs of 3.0
  • A .500 record for this season (above .500 for next year)
  • At least one community service project

Given the current roster situation with the women, as noted above, the .500 record could be a significant challenge. Definitely more doable for the men. Retention is always something of a question when a new coach takes over. We’ll see how that goes. The rest of the stuff should be straightforward.

That’s it for now. Back again in a couple weeks when we (hopefully) begin training.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Men's & Women's Head Volleyball Coach at Medaille College, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy (formerly Charleston Academy). His previous experience includes the college and university level in the US and UK, professional coaching in Sweden, and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. Learn more on his bio page.

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