Why Coaching is Not Just About X’s and O’s

Why Coaching is Not Just About X’s and O’s

By Danielle Hall

Growing up, I came from a Christian home in Andover, Minnesota. Meaning, I have only attended private schools, and became active in our youth group in the church. In 2003, I was a former volleyball and softball student-athlete who attended Crown. I went to Meadow Creek Christian School, now known as Legacy Christian Academy.

One big draw for me attending Crown, outside of playing collegiate volleyball, was their connection to international missions.

I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine to travel and study abroad, student teaching overseas while at Crown in Quito, Ecuador. Four years after graduating, an opportunity presented itself to return to the college and work in the Athletics Department. I was offered a Graduate Assistant (GA) position. In that role, I partnered with the NCAA Ethnic Minorities and Women’s Internship Grant to help promote diversity among the administration and coaching staff in intercollegiate athletic departments across all National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) divisions.

After much prayer and consideration, it was easy to accept the GA role and go back to the place where people molded me and impacted my life so much. Crown challenged me to become a stronger and wiser person, as well as a better woman of God.

Through a few key faculty and staff members that invested in my life–Dr. Lemuel Usita and John Auer being two of the key influencers–I was able to really become intentionally aware about who I thought I was and who I was actually portraying to others. They challenged me to think about why things happen in life rather than just focusing on the negative. They taught me that if I wanted to be influential in life, I needed to live a life that makes others want to look up to me.

They helped me think bigger than the life I was currently living and think about my future. Coach Auer also had a big impact on me switching from Business Administration to Physical Education, which led me to my career today. I was, and still am, excited to challenge and mentor students during a very influential time of their lives, just like I experienced at Crown.

My current role

I have been in the Athletics Department for six years now. I was originally hired as an Assistant Softball Coach to help rebuild the softball program. I helped create and build the role in Athletics for the Game Day Operations Manager position and advised the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

After completing the GA position, graduating with a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership, I was hired as a full-time employee. I continued working with Game Day Operations and Facility Management, coached two more years of softball, and remained the SAAC advisor. I eventually left my position as a Softball Coach in order to focus my efforts on the volleyball program.

Now, I am heading into my fourth season as the Head Volleyball Coach and couldn’t be more excited about the program, team, and coaching staff. Each year has been momentous for the program. I expect the same for this season.

Working as the Head Volleyball Coach

Being the Head Volleyball Coach, I was eager to get back on the court on which I had once practiced and played. Furthermore, I was ecstatic to be a part of the program I had given everything to and that had changed my whole self.

However, the part I was most excited for was to help rebuild a strong program through coaching and mentoring the young female student-athletes at Crown. I am determined to coach these women, not only to become better volleyball players but also to become stronger physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

A lot of my favorite coaching moments come from the volleyball road trips. They ask the hard questions they might be afraid to ask in a different scenario. It happens in the strategy sessions for volleyball, teaching them to think outside of the box and to see the bigger picture and not what is just happening on their side of the court or to them directly. It relates to life events as well, not just in-game situations.

Coaching for me isn’t all about the X’s and O’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love the strategy of the game and I am very competitive. We do get down to business when it’s time to work, but it is really more about the players that I get to interact with on a daily basis.

Every encounter I have with someone can change their path that day, and that is a constant reminder that I keep in the back of my mind. I pray that each person I encounter will see what Christ has done in me.