This post is from June 2015 as I prepared to leave England.
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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