Members of volleyball team coach during their off-season
Even when they’re not playing, Kirkwood Community College volleyball players have their heads in the game. Although this time of year the women take on a different role.
Seven of the Kirkwood volleyball players are coaching club teams for nearby Prairie High School. The Eagles work with athletes ranging from 12-17 years old. “Coach Geary, Prairie’s head coach, and Potique Johnson, the club director, contacted me my first year here at Kirkwood and we’ve have had Kirkwood players coaching ever since,” Eagles Head Coach Jill Williams said. Williams also noted that this year there are more Eagles coaching than ever before.
“We started tryouts for the teams at the beginning of December. We then had a couple of practices before winter break and then started practices on Thursdays from 7-9 p.m. and Sundays from 5-7 p.m. Tournaments are set up for each team to attend to and Prairie holds a few club tournaments as well,” freshman Beth Ripperger said.
Williams thinks the experience is great for her athletes. “They see the game in a different light,” Williams said. “They see it from the coach’s side.”
The Kirkwood volleyball players agree. “When you are on the other side of the spectrum being a coach instead of an athlete it gives you a greater understanding of what coaches expect of you and how they feel when they coach you. Overall I would say it helps in developing a more coachable attitude,” freshman Hanna Bruns said.
As well as gaining a new perspective, Williams said that her athletes are learning how to coach. “They have to find a way to be themselves while coaching, they learn about themselves. They find they can incorporate what and how we do things but they have to be who they are as they develop their coaching and teaching style. They are taking their tactical understanding of the game of volleyball to another level,” Williams said.
Coaching isn’t the only skill the Eagles are picking up from their time with the young players. “I also believe it helps them with their own confidence, being a mentor for young and eager players gives our players a great deal of self worth and makes them realize how important it is to be a positive role model for the club teams,” Williams said.
Williams says she feels like the skills her players have picked up while coaching younger players will serve them on and off of the court. “Learning to convey what you want done and why you want it done a certain way, breaking down skills and helping athletes put it back together to help them become a more complete player,” are all useful skills that the Eagles are working on as coaches, Williams said. “They have to become good communicators. Verbal commands, body language, even facial expressions as well as listening all play a role when communicating with others,” she added.
For some of the Eagle volleyball players, coaching is what they enjoy the most. “My favorite part is actually being on the coaching aspect of volleyball. I am the one that finally gets to teach the girls what I have learned and be able to give them positive feedback to improve their game of volleyball. It is also fun getting to know all the girls as well,” Ripperger said.