Tag Archive for volleyball job

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 1, 2015

I recently had an exchange with the German coaching contact I’ve mentioned in these log posts before on the difference between job application approach between Germany and the US. In the latter case the resume is the major focus. Cover letters are generally encouraged to be brief and to the point, and to focus on addressing the indicated position requirements. In Germany, though, the resume (CV) is less central and fit is more a factor from the outset. I suspect that is because for coaching jobs there you don’t have the usual formal application process seen in US institutions with their online forms and all that.

Although the US process may be more rigid, the exchange we had did serve as a reminder. As coaching job applicants we are selling ourselves to whoever it is that’s looking to hire. That means we should be focused not on ourselves, but on them. How can we help them achieve their objectives. The first step in the process is trying to identify those objectives, which isn’t always easy given very boilerplate job postings. This is where having contacts helps big time.

I also had a note from another contact – a former NCAA Division I head coach who has stepped away from coaching, but continues to work in volleyball. He made the following comment:

This has been a tough year for jobs; I have many friends which have had zero luck, even though they are very qualified and good people.  I am not sure why, but it is just one of those things.  I think you would be well served to build your resume internationally via the professional clubs at this point.

This same person also said the Division I assistant job I had a phone interview for last week would be a good one. I was supposed to hear back on that mid-week, but nothing thus far. Not filling me with positive expectations. I put my resume in for another Division I assistant position this week in what was otherwise pretty quiet on that front.

The jobs I won’t be getting officially include the Holy Cross head coach job, and one of the German jobs I put in for recently. In the latter case, it sounds like they basically already had someone in mind.

Coaching work-life balance

Are you are planning or considering a career as a full-time volleyball coach? It could be at the college level in the US, in the professional ranks in Europe or elsewhere – or as someone who makes a living by cobbling together multiple coaching roles. If so, balancing the demands of your coaching and your life outside coaching will be a very big deal.

Coaching is not like a standard 9 to 5 job, as you may already be aware. It has a tendency to become all-consuming, at least for some of us (I consider myself in that category). That means you will end up putting in way more hours on it than you probably would most other jobs. I’ll use coaching at the women’s Division I level in the US as an example. Here are some of the things that will take you out of having a nice, regular schedule.

  • Team travel – Basically every other week, on average, you’re going to be on the road for at least two days.
  • Recruiting travel – From February to early July you’re going to have to be off at Juniors tournaments recruiting. Figure on at least one trip per month. Then add on visiting club programs and doing home visits.
  • Recruiting communication – This is year-round, and often takes place in the evening.
  • Video work – This includes editing video for internal use and to share with the players and video analysis to scout the opposition, which can be a major time suck.
  • S&C and individuals training – These things can get scheduled at all different times, including early mornings, especially in the Spring season.

On top of this you can add press/media demands, community relations, fundraising, alumni relations, taking part in Athletic Department and university functions, running camps/clinics, dealing with player emergencies, and a number of other things that pop up (check out this list). And if you’re at the Division II or Division III level you could very well have a secondary duty such as teaching or administrative work to stack on top of all this. When I coached at Brown, we also ran a Juniors club to help grow the sport locally.

For those who might be wondering, the demands are not dissimilar for professional coaches. I know of assistants who are the head coach for one of the club’s lower teams. The head coaches have all kinds of press and media requirements. They have to interact with supporters groups and take calls from club management at all hours. And they all do lots and lots of video work. The point is, full-time coaching creates work-life balance challenges, especially as you move up the competitive ladder.

On top of that, coaching tenures can shorten up considerably. In professional volleyball you don’t see a lot of coaches who’ve been in their position for a long time (it’s similar in other sports as well). In the US collegiate realm you do see it a bit more. It tends, though, to be at the very top (think Russ Rose, John Dunning, etc.) where there’s relatively little movement. You can also see it much lower down where the expectations are different (keep the student-athletes happy, stay out of trouble, etc.). Coaching positions in the middling ranks turn-over quite often. And let’s not even get started with assistant coaches.

So, not only do you have to consider the long, irregular hours and probable volleyball invasions into home time. You also have the prospect of moving jobs, and maybe locales, every few years.

It’s been suggested that the reason there aren’t more women in coaching, especially at the higher levels, is that they want a better balance and/or more stability. True or not, it’s something all of us have to think about when plotting out a career in coaching. What we end up deciding will have a lot to do with where we are in our careers, our family situation and support structure, and the the priorities we have in life.

P.S.: There are some tips on improving work-life balance on the AVCA blog.

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.

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