If you’d like to read the first three installments of this series, you can find those here, here, and here.
For my fourth and final installment, allow me to introduce you to Drake University‘s Head Women’s Volleyball Coach, Darrin McBroom.
Darrin is unlike any other coach I’ve featured, in that, he was nominated by a former player. She thought he deserved to be recognized for the profound effect he had on her and her love of the game. There’s something to be said about a coach who impacts his team so much that his legacy endures long after the individual athlete’s playing days are done.
Here’s what Darrin’s former player, Erin, had to say about him.
Message: I played volleyball in high school and was a decent player but I definitely did not love the sport. I didn’t want to rack up student loans so I looked into playing in college. I committed to Iowa Western and played for Darrin McBroom. He made me fall in love with the sport and helped me go on to play for an NCAA Division I program. I played many sports growing up and had many coaches, but he is by far the best coach I have ever had. He always had motivational stories to tell that related to parts of the game and always respected his players. He now coaches at Drake University and I thought he’d be a great coach for you to interview.
I believe it’s important for coaches to know that the time, effort, and personal sacrifice they put into developing their players – everything they do day in and day out – does make a difference. Not only does the approach and dedication Darrin applies to coaching result in winning programs; more notably, he’s left lasting impressions on the athletes who have played for him over the years.
Below are three questions I asked Darrin to answer and his corresponding responses.
Q1: You are the first coach to be nominated for inclusion in this series. Your ex-player who nominated you credits you for helping her fall in love with the sport of volleyball. How do you manage coaching different players who each possess not only different skill sets but also different levels of engagement with the game?
Darrin’s Response: Well, the one commonality that all of my players have had is a love for volleyball and for competition. While at Iowa Western, I coached players from China, Brazil, Puerto Rica, Russia, Ukraine, Dominica, Canada, and the U.S. The one thing they all had in common is that they loved to play the game.
For myself, I walked away from a full-time teaching career…giving up summers off, tenure, and higher pay…to become a full-time coach at Iowa Western because I loved the game and I loved being a part of these teams and the lives of these kids.
I always wanted each season to be one of the greatest experiences that they had ever had playing volleyball and I knew if they were having a great experience, then they would give the best they had to me and the program. Integral to that experience was striving for great achievement on the court (individually and as a team), developing life-long friendships, and creating life-long memories. These teams were always like a family to me and I encouraged that kind relationship among them.
Q2: What’s something that’s kept you up at night over the last two decades coaching volleyball (meaning, is there something you try to control but seems to be uncontrollable)?
Darrin’s Response: Although people talk about the challenges of working with young people, that is all I have ever done and all I know. While I certainly have agonized over some of the poor choices some of my athletes have made in their personal lives and academically, it is not the athletes that have kept me up at night.
More often than not, it is the adults whom I work with who have created the most challenges over the years. The young people have not really changed that much; it is the adults who have changed.
Q3: Do you or members of your coaching staff keep an eye on the social media accounts of both existing and potential student-athletes? If so, what advice would you give to young adults about their digital profiles?
Darrin’s Response: As a general rule, I and my staff do not specifically monitor our athletes’ online profiles or those of incoming athletes. However, we have from time to time become aware of postings or statements that they make.
We take the time to make sure that these young women understand that what they put out on the internet is a representation of more than just themselves, but also the University, our program, and certainly all of their teammates. Therefore we advise them to be very judicious about what they put out there, especially since it cannot be taken back.
I would recommend that all young people be very careful and deliberate about the creation of their of their digital profiles as I do not think they realize the impact that one inadvertent comment or photo can have on their future.
Darrin is entering his fourth season at the helm of the NCAA Division I Drake Bulldog volleyball program, which competes in the Missouri Valley Conference. Prior to joining Drake, he spent eight seasons in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) where he compiled an overall record of 322-58, earning a winning percentage of 85 percent, to rank him among top 10 active coaches nationally across all NJCAA divisions. Read his complete coaching bio here.
The Sharing Wisdom: A Series of Coaching Perspectives is written by Heidi Woodard.
This is my takeaway…
“For myself, I walked away from a full-time teaching career…giving up summers off, tenure, and higher pay…to become a full-time coach at Iowa Western because I loved the game and I loved being a part of these teams and the lives of these kids.”
My experience in dealing with prep and JC coaches in all sports through the years has been that the ones who do it for less money or for free, usually have the best leadership skills and are the most amenable. I have seen this time and again.
I’m really enjoying these!
I agree, Roy. You have to love something enough to dedicate your time, effort, and sanity to it. Sometimes, when you’re making big bucks and have even bigger hoops to jump through in order to be viewed as successful in other people’s eyes, I imagine the innate love of the game can suffer as a result. Thanks for commenting.
Great questions and answers. And how wonderful that a former player made the effort to nominate him because of his lasting impact on her. Thank you for recognizing these positive coaches in a world that so often chooses to focus only on the negative.
That was my favorite thing about this particular interview…that it came about because a former player took the time to stop and say, “He deserves to be recognized.” May we all have an impact on someone else’s life like he has had on hers. Thanks for the feedback.
Have you talked to Gene Kruger in Elkhorn? He’s my great uncle but an amazing guy!
From the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame:
“After serving three years in the United States Marine Corps, Gene attended Midland College, graduating in 1946. His first teaching and coaching job was at his hometown of Arlington, heading up all sports. He made the move to Elkhorn in 1949, where he hired as assistant coach in all sports and taught mathematics. In 1950, he was named head basketball and track. He added head football duties in 1951 and Elkhorn played in the first 8-man game in Nebraska. To ail this was added the responsibilities of athletic director until 1955 when he left teaching for private business. The lure of the classroom brought him back to education in 1960 when he returned to Elkhorn as coaches of all sports, math teachers and athletic director. Over the next 15 he gradually eased out of coaching one sport at a time but remained as AD until 1980. Gene coached numerous district championship teams in basketball, with four making the state tournament and two were state runners-up. His track teams garnered several district championships with two winning the state runner-up trophy. He’s received many honors from the Nebraska Coaches Association, Nebraska Athletic Directors and the Nebraska School Activities Association.”
Thank you for sharing Gene Kruger’s story, Alicia. My original plan was to publish a four-post series, but I will keep him in mind if I decide to expand the series. LOVE hearing about dedicated coaches/teachers like your great uncle! You must be very proud. 🙂