New girls’ volleyball coach adjusts strategy to bring team together

December 2, 2020 — by Carolyn Wang

Bringing the girls’ volleyball team together is going to be tough this year for the new coach Brendan Wang, especially with COVID-19 restrictions and the uncertainty about whether or how the sports seasons will play out. 

In high school, Wang played varsity volleyball, coached various volleyball clubs and helped out in the school team. After graduating from Homestead High School in 2017, he decided to continue coaching. Two years later, he was given an opportunity to coach boys’ volleyball at Saratoga High.

Had there not been COVID-19, the fall of 2020 would have been the second season that Wang coaches boys’ volleyball. After the former girls’ volleyball coach left due to a busy schedule, Wang took over their team as well. He, along with an assistant coach, will be coaching varsity and Junior Varsity teams for both boys and girls, with Wang focusing on varsity.

Originally, Wang’s plan for the girls’ team was to develop the younger players, set a strict standard for what he wanted from the players on the team and begin formulating strategies for winning competitions. However, the pandemic brought forth massive changes in his plans.

“Because of COVID-19, this year is going to be less of winning and going to CSS or getting a title,” Wang said. “It’s going to be more about just playing, having fun, and experiencing what it’s like to grow in volleyball within a school team.”

Even with those standards, bringing together a team, especially one under COVID-19 restrictions, is not going to be easy, he said.

Wang believes there are two types of coaches: the strategic coach and the personality coach. The strategic coach tells players the actual “arithmetics” and strategies of the game, while the personality coach directs the team on a more personal level such as offering encouragement or advice beyond the sport.

“Personally, I’m not quite good at being the personality coach,” Wang said. “My strength is being a strategic coach, so in my opinion, the best way to gain their trust is to let them know that ‘Hey, I know what I’m doing. I’ve played the sport for many years, so hopefully I can explain to you guys why my strategies are the best.’”

Wang is also unsure how practices will run under COVID-19 restrictions, but he plans for them to not be very intensive on skills or conditioning. Instead, they would be more about learning how to play and enjoy the sport again after months of inactivity.

Additionally, Wang said he feels that professional, college and even high school teams all play the same version of volleyball, and there usually is not much “out of the box thinking.” He hopes that by coaching at Saratoga High or even college later on, he can expand those boundaries and introduce new experimental plays that go beyond standard strategy.

Although he foresees a few bumps in the road in terms of getting rusty players back into shape, Wang said he is hopeful about the team and the upcoming sports season.

“You just got to be patient. Being out of shape is pretty common,” he said. “I haven’t touched a volleyball in a couple of months, so I'll be out of shape too. It’ll be a learning experience for all of us.”


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