The coaching staff was incredible to me. Scott Swanson openly presented the opportunity and took me under his wing. Mike Hebert empowered me to find my role within the system and guided me as a coach, much as he guides his players. Laura Bush provided a female coaching perspective along with a caring voice when needed. Lest not forget the role Nao Ikeda plays on the staff. Her countless hours teaching me data volley will prove grately beneficial in future endeavors. I also appreciated her real Japanese teas throughout the winters (did I mention those yet? 😉
The University of Minnesota’s incoming recruiting class was recently named #1 in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com. This is quite an accomplishment for a coaching staff, but after spending a season with these coaches, I can understand how they achieved this rank. There are very few programs, if any, that have three successful head coaches on one staff. Head Coach, Mike Hebert, has over 850 wins. He is so modest that this accomplishment was barely recognized by even the coaching staff for this accomplishment during the season. Associate Head Coach, Scott Swanson, was extremely successful at his time at UTEP. And Assistant Coach, Laura Bush, had two successful head coaching stints at Marquette University and Auburn University. In addition, she not only played for Mike Hebert, but was also an assistant coach at Michigan State under Chuck Erbe (who guided USC to the first NCAA Women’s Championship in 1981). The wealth of volleyball knowledge on the staff is uncanny. Yes, my head was often spinning in staff meetings.
But most of all, this is a staff that truly cares. Throughout my journey to find my next coaching position, they networked for me, provided support, and encouraged me when the chips were down. I would receive phone calls asking, “Who can I contact for you next” and emails saying, “What’s my next assignment for you.” They never stopped believing in me and never let me give up on my dream. They made it happen for me. For this I am forever grateful. I know this coaching staff also treats their players with the same nuturing compassion. They truly care for the best interest of the players as a whole (academically, athletically, and physically) during their years at The U and beyond. It is an incredible volleyball family (the tremendous fan support and the GoldDiggers Booster Club included). Those that get the opportunity to play for the Gophers are incredibly lucky.
As I depart Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota Volleyball program to an Assistant Coach position at Winthrop University, I not only take with me a wealth of knowledge, but incredible relationships that will last a lifetime. Point U!