Archives For volleyball

Sharing Wisdom Series4

If you’d like to read the first three installments of this series, you can find those herehere, 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 McBroom

Darrin McBroom, Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at Drake University

 

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.

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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.

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One of my biggest motivators for launching GiveTheGameBack earlier this year was to connect with other youth sports parents to learn from them and their experiences. One sport I know very little about is club volleyball. What I’ve heard about the sport second-hand from parents whose kids are playing is that it is INTENSE AND EXPENSIVE.

Lucky for me, I met fellow writer Leslie Murrell. Leslie and her husband have a set of twins, one boy and one girl, who are both heavily involved in sports. Leslie played volleyball and basketball for West Texas A&M University and, like me, has transitioned from competing as an athlete to spectating as a parent.

I hope you enjoy her insight into club volleyball as much as I did. Enjoy!

volleyball 101

You would think, as a former collegiate volleyball athlete and club coach, that I’d be fully prepared to be a volleyball mom. Not so much, it turns out. This last year has been a year of growth and learning for this momma just as much as for my daughter, Lucy.

Volleyball is fairly unique in the world of select and club sports.

So here are my tips and explanations for club volleyball moms (and dads) out there:

Don’t get sucked into the drama.
It’s not your drama. Chances are, it’s probably not the team’s drama either. In my rookie mom year, I was completely sucked into some super bizarre dialogue, gossip, and drama. Little, if any, had anything to do with Lucy. I can’t decide if it’s the money invested, or the parents adjusting to their daughter in sports.

Volleyball is a strategic, smart sport.
Trust your daughter’s ability and emotional intelligence. Heart to heart, and mom to mom, this is a tough one. Stop telling people how smart your daughter is, and let her show you. Give her some room to learn and do.

Don’t be sexist.
We have the unique disposition of having boy/girl twins who are also athletes. So, seeing how the parents interact with my son’s team versus my daughter’s team is interesting. My observation is that parents emotionally coddle their daughters in sports way more than they would their sons in sports – which is odd, given that girls mature faster. On the flip side, volleyball continues to grow in popularity so much that your son may ask to play. Please don’t be sexist! There are boys’ teams out there too, and it’s a great opportunity.

Prepare financially and emotionally.
Club volleyball as I see it, seems to be one of the more expensive select or club sports. Do your research on the clubs in your area. Go through Heidi’s tips for select sports. Learn what each club offers. Many clubs in town offer several different levels. Look into all of your options and do what’s best for your athlete. Ask several parents why they chose that club.

Have a complete understanding of what you’re paying for.
For a travelling club volleyball team, we’re talking a STARTING RATE of $2,000. For any other purchase of that amount, you’d get an itemized bill.

Also, don’t assume the more money you drop, the more say you have as to where and how much time your daughter plays. Try to remember everyone on the team paid the same amount as you did.

If you pay that club fee and then you get hit up for a Sand Training, it’s not bogus.
Not only is training in the sand is one of the most effective ways to improve on coordination, agility, fast-twitch muscles, but beach volleyball is now offered as a scholarship sport at several universities. And it’s not just on the west coast. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has a beach volleyball team.

Learn to say no or sandbag that financial preparation I just mentioned.
Be prepared to get up charged on private lessons, camps, and clinics. In talking to my other select sports moms, this seems pretty unique to volleyball. Consider your budget, your daughter’s time, and prioritize what you feel is necessary based on her goals. It’s okay to be the parent who says “no” to an additional tournament or private lessons.

We were first to speak up about a tournament we didn’t want to add on, and were soon relieved to discover there were several other parents who felt the same way…which leads me to my next point…

To travel or not to travel? You have options.
In Omaha, alone, we have more than five clubs which, on average, have three teams in each age group. We are a short trip down I-80 from one of the most successful college volleyball programs in the country, a direct consequence is a lot more competitive youth volleyball clubs. Regionally, the Midwest is oozing with clubs and competition to play.

There’s a pressure to travel so that you don’t have to play the same teams over and over again.

Here’s a fun math equation: If a collegiate volleyball player plays for four years, she’ll play the same opponents at least eight times. So, playing the same teams repetitively is not such a bad idea. There’s a learned behavior to scouting teams repetitively played, and making adjustments when you play them again.

With that said, maybe you and your volleyball athlete and team want to travel. The larger tournaments do have a plus side. When your daughter walks into a convention center filled wall-to-wall with over 200 courts, it’s kind of a big deal. That they can be part of a greater competition has significant impact on their level of competition and focus.

Leslie's daughter, Lucy, attacking at the net. Photo courtesy of Bob Safar.

Leslie’s daughter, Lucy, with an attack at the net. Photo courtesy of Bob Safar.

Understand that you don’t understand the game. Whether volleyball is new to you, or you played “a few years ago,” believe me, the game has changed a bit. For example:

“Hunny, poor Susie wore the wrong color, someone needs to tell her!” Don’t wonder out loud why one of your daughter’s teammates has a different colored jersey on. You might as well ask your kid in front of your techy boss to show you those emoji thingies on your phone again. Don’t embarrass yourself like that. Ask your daughter in private how to pronounce “libero” and that will start the conversation for you.


Did you know? The volleyball libero is a defensive specialist position in indoor volleyball. The position was added to the game in 1999 along with special rules for play in order to foster more digs and rallies. The libero remains in the game at all times and is the only player not limited by rules of rotation. She usually replaces the middle blocker position when they rotate to the back row and never rotates to the front row herself. c/o volleyball.about.com


Refrain from yelling at the ref when someone taps the net. Rules fluctuate from school to club, to different leagues, regions, and tournaments. So, this rule is frustrating. But as far as I can tell, if touching the net advanced the game, they call it against the offending net toucher. If it’s a sly touch on the net that does not hinder nor advance the game, the ball stays in play. Look, I hate this rule, too. But I also hate how carbs make my butt big. I don’t cry and whine about it every time I’m eating cake. See where I’m going with this, y’all?

It’s always rally score. You don’t need to serve to earn the point anymore. I tried to tell you – things have changed.

She’ll learn more than playing the game – Your daughter will learn to referee, line judge, keep the books, and keep score. This of course offsets costs for tournaments and games. But more importantly, and completely intentionally, your daughter is learning effective communication skills, volleyball call motions, how to make a quick judgment calls under pressure, applying the rules of the game, respect for other teams, how to keep stats, make substitutions, all while not playing, but while refereeing the game. Unfortunately, she’ll get a ridiculous lesson in idiot parents with a checkbook and loud mouths who think they know better. She’ll learn composure.

No other competitive youth sport empowers their athletes to learn the game and respect the game through refereeing the game.

So stick around. In time management of a tournament, plan on your daughter being at the very last game. Don’t try to skedaddle from a tournament early after her team has lost. The losing team referees. The whole team stays until the last game is over.

Even if you’re 100% right, and you just know it, yelling at a ref or a kid is 100% wrong.
Don’t be the idiot parent with a checkbook and a loud mouth who thinks you know better. For goodness sake, you just asked what a libero was! Before you yell at a kid making a line judge call, remember that could be your kid out there. Have as much faith in the refereeing team as you have in your daughter.

Teach your daughter about Title IX and gratitude.
Learn about Title IX. Whether you were a female athlete or you’re a dad who’s new to the female sporting world supporting your daughter, or you’ve just discovered that indeed, they’re letting the dang females play sports – you’re benefiting from Title IX. Chances are, your daughter’s coach played in college – because of Title IX. Which means she has experience, motivation, and inspiration to teach your daughter.

Learn to pepper.
Pepper is a term in volleyball when two players volley back and forth. It’s volleyball’s equivalent to “playing catch” or “shooting hoops.” Get an outdoor volleyball and learn to pepper. This has been the single best advice I was given. It’s repetition and ball control practice with your child. But mostly, it’s a humbling experience as to how hard the game really is. It’ll make you think twice before yelling something stupid at a game. When Lucy and I started out, just getting two consecutive contacts was a challenge. Lucy had to adjust, hustle, and move her feet to compensate for my lack of ball control. And she talks to me and appreciates my willingness to play with her. That, or she just feels really sorry for me and my lack of coordination. Either way, it’s a delightful bonding experience.

As you can see, there are a lot of specific club volleyball tips, and then a few replays for parenting a select or club athlete.  Whether you’re new to the sport, or just needed a reminder, I hope you take a chance to learn the game!

Written by Leslie Murrell