The Fredonia women’s volleyball team will face Brockport on Saturday night in the SUNYAC Championship match. The winner will get an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
I spoke with Head Coach Geoff Braun immediately before the match about the improvement of his athletes and his thoughts heading into tonight:
Jon-Ryan Maloney: Can you talk about the environment you’ve created to have a culture of athletes who get better? Especially your juniors and seniors–they’ve all gotten so much better. Not every team has been like that.
Geoff Braun: Part of my answer to that question needs to include the fact that we don’t always accomplish that. That’s very difficult to accomplish. You need athletes who understand the team dynamic, the team-first mentality, and who want to support each other. If you can get twelve-to-sixteen of those individuals all working together as a unit and working towards the same goal, it allows for improvement.
Maloney: So do you have to make sure you recruit those players?
Braun: Yes, and that’s difficult.
Maloney: How do you know what those recruits are going to be like?
Braun: You don’t know one hundred percent, but you have to talk to enough people to get the best idea. I do think that it’s important to get it right right out of the gate. So if you have somebody who might waiver, if that person comes in and notices that everyone else around her is buying into a team-first mentality then she tends to move in that direction, too. I do think it’s manageable–it’s not as if they either have it or they don’t–but I do think they need to be open-minded and willing to buy in.
Maloney: What are you thinking about going into tonight’s match against Brockport?
Braun: I’m comforted. My nerves are lessened because I’m confident in this team’s work-ethic and their attitude and their approach. They’re respectful, but they’re not fearful. I know they’re going to lay it all out there. I know that, they know that, so it’s comforting. What I’ve tried to tell them, and what I keep thinking about now, is that wanting it and working hard isn’t all that it takes. You have to execute, and you have to be smart, while managing all these emotions and managing a hostile environment. I think that’s what makes it interesting: you just don’t know how it all fits together.
Maloney: Is there anything else that seems relevant to mention?
Braun: I’m excited because this is where I wanted this team to be. They deserve this opportunity, and I’m excited to see them get after it.