I got hooked when I was 10 years old. My grade school had a volleyball team and I figured, why not? A couple years later I was invited to play club volleyball. Little did I know this was the beginning of my 20+ year journey through the sport of volleyball.
This sport is so important to me. I grew up on the southside of Chicago with a very ill mother most of my life. It was pretty much school, hospitals, home. Repeat. For years. When I discovered volleyball, I finally found my 2 hour reprieve a few days a week from the anxiety of my mother's poor health. It was my escape.
Growing up, my coach understood how important being able to play was. But with mounting medical bills and prescription costs, the cost of club was unattainable most years. Many times, he would tell us to pay whatever we could, have me work off the tuition, or even pay nothing at all. It was this generosity that has stayed with me the rest of my life and continues to be a mission of mine. Quoting that club coach of mine: "I never want money to be the reason a kid can't play."
I played club volleyball at Loyola University-Chicago for all 4 years. Once my playing days dwindled down, I began coaching out of college for local clubs and schools in the Chicago area. I also coached club volleyball in Virginia while my husband was stationed there. We are now stationed in Tucson, and with his retirement right around the corner, we are looking to lay down roots here. I've been coaching for Club Cactus since 2013. Outside of this, I've gone above and beyond in my coaching education by attaining my CAP III certification through USA Volleyball - one of the only coaches in Southern Arizona to have this.
My 16s year at a qualifier in Florida. I'm on the left in the green. A little bonus cameo of my mom all the way on the left!
Just a bunch of kids from the southside of Chicago
Assistant Coach Bailey Breeding
Bailey is a former player of mine. I coached her for two seasons at Club Cactus Juniors. She went on to set at Arizona Western.
She has returned to Tucson to work on her dream of becoming a firefighter. She has always been around the gym to help out at lessons and camps, but now she gets a title!
The DIWS Philosophy
Our goal is to make the court a place conducive to learning. We encourage players to operate at the edge of their abilities. This means that players are going to make lots of mistakes as they learn new skills or work on sharpening them. We will celebrate their wins and reframe their losses.
As coaches, we are also seeking to get better. It's not enough to only rely on experience - no matter the length of it or even the programs we've coached with. Every generation of athletes is facing new challenges while at the same time the field of learning is changing with new research. We owe it to our athletes to provide the best opportunities for growth and knowledge, not just the ones that make us look good as coaches.
Phrases not allowed on the court:
1. "I can't..."
2. "I'm sorry..."
3. "My bad."
I hope you'll have an opportunity to join me on the court whether it's through a camp, clinic, or lesson! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!