For first-year volleyball head coach Heather Longley, this year’s season for the Bay Path volleyball team featured it all—including an appearance by the Wildcats at the National Championship.
You just returned from the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) DI National Championships held at the Virginia Beach Field House in Virginia Beach, VA. How did it go?
It was incredible. We played two games against teams from other parts of the country. Our first match was a loss against the number 2 seed Bluefield State College from West Virginia and we took a set off then. We then went on to play Carlow University from Pittsburgh (PA), who came in third in the tournament. Our team gave 100% against both teams. Although they lost, it was a great experience. The team left the court psyched for next year.
How was the season overall?
Because of the pandemic, the team had not played in two years so in some ways it was like starting over. This was definitely a building year for future seasons. The energy and enthusiasm in this team is one of its best strengths: the players even help admissions in recruiting future teammates. They see this as “our team,” and want to continue to grow.
This is your first year as coach. Tell us a bit about your background.
In high school, I played as an outside before being moved to the middle as a blocker for Lasell University. I was not considered tall for a middle at 5’ 11”, but I finished college as the #2 blocker in my conference. It was an important takeaway because even today I tell my players that height doesn’t mean everything; it’s about speed, skill and effort. When we weren’t playing, our Lasell coach encouraged us to coach other teams. I started with the Beantown Volleyball Club and I haven’t stopped coaching from that point. This is my 10th year coaching and 22nd season combining girls, boys and club volleyball.
What is your philosophy on coaching?
I like the challenge of creating a winning program. For me, it is all about team building, working together, and friendship. I’ve also found that a player plays at their best when they are having fun. Developing a sense of trust is also important—a player has to trust the five players around them.
What are your goals for next year?
That is simple. The Wildcats are going to go back to the National Championships and are going to win the title!