One of the terms we often use in our program is “The nest”. We use it in a variety of ways, but it’s most commonly used when we want to share openly about something and we don’t want to be judged by our peers. It refers to a safe place and that is exactly what we want to provide for our players.
A safe place often times gets mistaken for an environment without accountability, confrontation, or scrutiny. Let me assure you that is not the environment we are working to establish and maintain.
Whether it is in the classroom, the gym, or socially, our players are held to a high level of accountability. Too many times we run from accountability and put ourselves in situations where we have no one to answer to. I want our players to understand that we all need to be held accountable and questioned when we step out of line. This is a college team; this means there are always going to be the pressures associated with being a college student. We are not at all saying that our girls never make mistakes, they are human and that happens. It is more about them understanding that they will have to answer for those mistakes and that what they chose to do or not do affects every member of the team. We hold our players accountable because we love them and it is our job to send them on from our program as better people, not just better volleyball players. Without accountability there is no clear level of expectation and without expectations our progress is unknown.
A lost art in relationships that I feel is essential to growth is confrontation. Our players often lack the ability to confront their peers and that leads to real problems within a team. I love technology, but I do think that technology has definitely hindered our ability to have tough face-to-face conversations with one another. Texting is easier than talking to and you can’t have a real conversation via texting. Coaches are around their teams a fraction of the time the players are around each other and if nobody is able or willing to confront when necessary then the culture will suffer greatly. A culture will inevitably develop within a team, for good or bad, and whatever behavior we do not confront we are communicating that it is acceptable.
The players on our team know that we are going to play the best players and that is the bottom line when it comes to lineups. They experience a very real level of scrutiny that can be taxing at times. We always want to be deep in every position and challenge each player to consistently improve. We share our statistical data and player rankings openly and we want them to experience the rewards of playing along with the struggles of watching from the sidelines. Being a starter for our team is very difficult because we carry so many quality players. Handling both success and adversity are lessons we want our players to learn.
We use biblical principles to teach life lessons. God calls us to give up ourselves to follow Him and I think we can make that connection for our athletes in a proper team setting. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me”. We want our players to deny themselves and put the team first. Once this is understood we can transfer that concept into their spiritual lives.
Our goal is to help our players learn to deal with situations properly within the team setting so they can be better equipped for real life situations when they arise.
“The Nest” doesn’t judge, it doesn’t hold grudges, it always loves, and it always challenges.