Beach volleyball coach brings national team experience to Tulane
September 27, 2016
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At the helm of the Tulane beach volleyball team is head coach Wayne Holly, who is in his third season with the Green Wave. Aside from his role as coach at Tulane, Holly leads another team.
For the past four years, Holly has been invited to California beaches to coach the USA Volleyball team and provide tutelage for junior players with Olympic aspirations.
Holly has quite the record as of the Wave’s last season. Tulane beach volleyball had its winningest season ever in the school’s history as they bumped, set and spiked their way to a 20-15 record. In 2016, the team was ranked 14th in the nation and had six wins over nationally-ranked teams.
This summer, Holly was appointed as the head coach of the USA A1 Future Stars Beach National Team, where he coached 10 girls aged 14 and under. Holly had previously spent three years with the program as an assistant coach.
“It was a great honor to work with USA,” Holly said. “This is the first head coaching position that they appointed me to with the national team, so it was great.”
USA Volleyball, as the official governing body for volleyball in the United States, regulates all teams from the national men’s and women’s teams all the way down to juniors. Every year, they hold approximately 25 tryouts from February to April across the country. From there, the top 25 boys and girls are invited out to California for three-day tryout sessions. As head coach, Holly had an ultimate say on which players he would like on his team.
“I ultimately have the final say as the national team coach,” Holly said. “…USA has…assistant coaches who will run second level tryouts while I watch and observe and I basically select the national team.”
From there, training began. Starting in late June, Holly took to the sands of Hermosa Beach, California and worked with the team. Not only would the girls have to work together as a team, but after being assigned their partner, they would need to work more with their new teammate.
“I would say the greatest thing they did was come together because these are girls that don’t necessarily know each other,” Holly said. “It’s the top 10 in the country, as we said, so they have to come together over the course of about a month and a half… to develop that kind of rapport in a short amount of time is something that I thought they did exceptionally well.”
On July 13, following several training camps and clinics, USA A1 Future Stars Beach National Team headed to the U.S. National Championships to compete against other USA Volleyball teams for the title. There, Holly’s teams swept all top four spots, the first time it had ever happened in the history of the tournament.
“Our teams won gold, silver and bronze medals at the US championships, so that was super exciting,” Holly said. “We actually took the top four spots, and that was the first time that that had ever been done.”
As the head coach of both Tulane and USA Juniors, Holly remarked on the differences of coaching those bound for education and those bound for championships, yet still on the same path for success.
“I was with USA Volleyball before I came to Tulane, so certainly being around some of the great coaches that I was with at USA Volleyball helped me when I came here,” Holly said. “It’s really very different experiences. To train a college athlete to do what we need to do, which is graduate with a degree and be successful against other college-level athletes, is a very different concept than training players to be future Olympians.”
When the summer ended, the girls returned to their homes and Holly returned to Tulane, ready for a new year to begin.
“When we have those levels of success and final products, I think that tells us that what we are doing here in the program is right,” Holly said. “You can’t have that kind of success whether you’re 13 or whether you’re in college without being a great learner.”