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.

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John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John most recently coached for an NCAA Division II women's team. That followed a stint as head coach for a women's professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women's Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

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