This is an excerpt from Winning Ways of Women Coaches by Cecile B. Reynaud.
By Amber Warners
My philosophy as a coach is twofold. First, I want to win. Winning is fun. Winning is way more fun than losing, but we don’t even talk about winning much with our student-athletes. What I mean by wanting to win is that I want our program to do things in such a way that we can look back and say we did everything in our power to get the result we wanted.
Someone once asked me how I measure success in our program. My first reaction to that question was to think about the number of wedding invitations that are given out to the teammates when one of our players gets married. You only invite people to your wedding that you truly care about and have a great relationship with. And if you think about it, a player will usually graduate with only a few other teammates each year. But a player has seven years of teammates—their class as well as three years of players older than them and three years younger than them. Most player weddings I go to have 15 to 20 teammates attending. I consider that measure to mean we have a successful program when I witness all those teammates being at one of those weddings.
I firmly believe we have won a great deal of matches because we focus on more than just volleyball skills and court development. Don’t get me wrong. We still focus a lot on the volleyball, but doing that alone will not bring out the very best in our players on the court. It is only a part of it. Adding in all the other things we do in our program is an important reason why we have had so much success over the past decade.
Players’ experiences matter. It matters for longevity in the program, retention rates, attracting recruits, motivation, and win or loss outcomes. Having a great team culture will not only give you more wins, it will also be an additional factor that will draw better talent to want to come and play in your program.
Building and sustaining a winning program can be interpreted in different ways. I think of myself as a coach who wants to win more than anyone she knows but at the same time wants her players to have the best experience of their lives because of the culture that was relentlessly pursued day after day and year after year. Sure, I care about all these things because I want to win, but it is a great deal more than that to me. It has to do with building and maintaining something so special it will transcend the results you will see on paper. Not only will your team have more wins and maybe even add some championships for your school, but it will give your athletes an experience that will teach them how to work hard to be their very best in everything they do. They will carry that work ethic with them into their lives after college—into their family life, careers, and relationships. I want us to have the best team chemistry we possibly can have. Players will play better and push themselves harder if they love their teammates and enjoy being together. Being in our program will give them an opportunity that many say was some of the best time of their lives.
The second part of my philosophy is I want every one of our players to become the best they can be on the court, in the classroom, in their relationships with others, and in their faith. I acknowledge that in the big picture of life, this second part is bigger than the first part. I am a coach that holds both parts to the highest standards, and I know this is why our program is special and has helped us maintain our success in all aspects.