East Coast volleyball has been know to produce some of the nations most competitive players and coaches. We sat down with NYU Volleyball Head coach, Andrew Brown to discuss why he thought east coast volleyball was so unique and to see what volleyball players can do in their downtime mentally and physically to stay competition-ready. We put videos of his interview as well as a small snippet of what he had to say on current topics down below. Enjoy!
Andrew Brown: Women’s Head Volleyball Coach at New York University.
Can You Play College Sports?
Take the 4 minute quiz to see if you have what it takes for NCAA sports.
Topic 1: Does East Coast volleyball have its own style? Andrew talks about the different style and how his team is a great balance.
Andrew talks a bit about some different styles of volleyball in different regions of the country. He mentions what he thinks makes east coast volleyball unique but also how he uses the different styles to his advantage when recruiting his players.
Topic 2: How Andrew Got Into Coaching:
Andrew has a pretty unique story on how he got into college coaching which began back when he was very young. He got an opportunity to become a head college coach by age 23 and found out quickly that college coaching is a full time job that he fell in love with. He shares stories of his journey to NYU and how he’s enjoyed the different challenges.
Topic 3: Andrew’s coaching style and how he keeps learning:
When it comes to finding his coaching style, Andrew talks about how he’s always learning from other coaches and from his past experiences. He talks about some of the coaches that he’s learned from as well as why he continues to learn whenever he can.
Topic 4: The most challenging part of coaching for Andrew:
Andrew talks about the rigors of being a part of both a highly competitive volleyball program and a highly competitive academic program for his students at NYU. He tells us how this is part of what makes coaching challenging but also rewarding. His thoughts on helping his students through their college career are inspiring.
Topic 5: Andrew offers some at-home tips for players to stay physically active and overcome adversity during this uncertain time:
Knowing that all athletes are having to stay at home and give up most, if not all, of their club season, Andrew offers some great tips on staying both physically active while being stuck at home during this epidemic. He mentions how you can use technology to stay in shape but also share what you are doing with coaches/friends to keep communication open. He also gives some solid advice on how to overcome adversity during this time. He talks about creating a schedule and sticking with it to come out of the break stronger.
Topics 6: Andrew also chats a bit about an intangible that he looks for when recruiting:
Andrew recalls some of the things he did as an athlete that helped him become stronger mentally. These tips and suggestions are also intangible skills that he looks for in his athletes.
Topic 7: Andrew describes some successful teams and if talent or mental toughness made the difference.
When it comes to success, Andrew knows what it takes to go the distance! He tells us the importance of both talent and mental toughness when it comes to having a successful season. His answer might surprise you!
As you can see from Andrew, there are many qualities that make east coast volleyball a hotspot of talent and great Universities to choose from. As Andrew mentioned the physical and mental components that can be worked on at home, our time can be valuable even in the midst of unusual situations.
Enter The Nation's Largest Prospect Database
Connect with thousands of college coaches across the U.S. and get evaluated for collegiate athletics!
Transcript of Conversation
Okay, so that was a great story loved hearing about how you got into coaching. Do you have any college coaches or even club coaches, high school coaches that you found that you emulated their style or kind of learned from to kind of get you to where you are now?
Um, I think you're always learning as a coach. I think that's something that's really unique about our sport. So I would definitely say I have coaches that I've had as mentors and coaches that I think are very inventive when it comes to like their systems. Whether that's both Like on the court or behind the scenes, definitely a few standout. My college coach definitely inspired me to, you know, really get into coaching and kind of become really passionate about the game. And then I'm really good friends with a club director for Diggs volleyball out in New Jersey, Bill Lee's been a really influential support for me over the years, just, you know, giving me my first opportunity coaching club and, and just somebody that you know, I really respect and the awesome part is, is he takes a lot of information from me as well. So we're able to kind of really help each other out. And then I have coaches that I'm really good friends with that I think we like to bounce ideas off of, which becomes super helpful, especially during season where you're only seeing it through maybe one lens it's kind of great to be able to get another perspective from a different coach and just kind of be able to talk shop a little bit. So everybody from amber who's now going to Seattle you Congrats. Number two job moving out to Seattle. Hopefully in a couple months. I'm Kevin Rogers. He just switched from East Stroudsburg University to fairly Dickinson University going from D two to D one on so many coaches. I mean, I talk a lot with a lot of the IV coaches, because we're kind of similar in terms of our style of volleyball or conferences. But yeah, you you tend to have a pretty large network of coaches that become part of your community. I could probably just keep going on and on Steve, who used to be at URI but he's now at Rutgers, which is awesome. Congrats to Steve. But yeah, I think it's just really cool how our sport is constantly evolving, even though still the sample, you know, bump set spike every year. There's just different ways about going through those different skills and especially navigating, recruiting. I think that's something that's always evolving, always changing and being able to Stay on the front side of it. It's something that really excites me, but also challenges you as a coach. Mm hmm.
Yeah, it definitely does seem like coaches in all sports are always learning, right? You guys are always trying to figure out new ways to get your players involved new ways to, to make it to that next level. So you have to keep that continuing education up. So that's great. It's always good to have a nice network of coaches. We obviously appreciate that as well. But you did bring up shortly ago that there are challenges. What do you think is the biggest challenge that you have found in coaching?
Uh, for me, I think it's unique to like the different programs that we all are a part of, you know, being in a high academic realm, you definitely have to really understand what your players are going through when it comes to their academics and where their different time needs are and the directions are being pulled in. So I think it's been really great to kind of learn over the past two years, like, what their stressors are, and how can I help them navigate them and also deal with adversity. So I think that's something that has really helped our program become a lot closer. Um, you know, for for high academics, I like to joke and say that when you're in club, you know, you're kind of out on an island by yourself because you know, when you're at a tournament in a really cool city, sometimes you have to stay in the hotel and just read or do some homework or study for an upcoming test. Whereas your other teammates are like, let's go on this like walking tour or Segway tour. And you can't maybe take part of that. Whereas Once you're at a college program, where your teammates are also like minded, it becomes a lot easier to balance those challenges of academics, because they're, they're in the same boat with you. But being able to facilitate a schedule that revolves around their academics has been something that we've really had some challenges with, but at the same time, we've been able to get the most out of them and terms of their success both in the classroom in the gym. And I think each year you kind of learn a different part of their of their daily routine in terms of the academics that will only benefit them that much better in the next year. So for us, I would say the volleyball is the easy part, but just making sure that we're catering to their academic needs, and allowing them to really thrive in both environments is a challenge, but it's also a challenge that we connect really well with. Mm hmm.
That's great. Um, that kind of segues into the next question, then if you had some tips for kids that are having to stay at home now, um, even if it's not academics, but it sounds like having to help your athletes through there's some mental side of it, and there's also some skill side of it. So do you have any tips for kids that are kind of stuck at home, how they can stay active how they can, you know, keep pushing for their their goal of playing in college?
Yeah, I mean, I think definitely think being outside is definitely something that it's been nice to really see a lot of happening especially like in the neighborhood that my sister lives in, like the amount of families that are, you know, out for a walk, biking and just doing like physical outdoor activity I think is really important and good. But also I think social media is a something that you can really boost and take advantage of when you can't be seen face to face or in person. So I've been suggesting, like, if you don't have a, an Instagram account that you can use for more recruiting purposes to definitely start one because you can make really short clips that you can post that coaches can see or friends can see. And you can kind of do all these challenges that are out there and just kind of have some fun with it. Because right now a lot of programs collegiate programs are having to turn to social media and ramp up their, their networks in terms of being able to get information out there and to get good exposure. So I think this is a terrific time to have an account that you can follow a bunch of schools that you're interested in and be able to connect through them with that platform, but obviously not being on social media for 10 hours a day. Right, but definitely using it to, to continue to ignite those different recruiting avenues of communication.
Yeah, those are those are some great tips. Are there some other things that they can maybe do to overcome this adversity? I've definitely heard a lot of athletes say that this, you know, this time is unfair. And, you know, they're, especially seniors, they're really worried about what's going to happen over the next couple months, and it's kind of up in the air for everyone. Do you have anything specifically that you can share that you might even talk to your college kids about? Because they're all stuck at home to some ways to kind of overcome?
Yeah, I think, you know, building a schedule and, you know, a physical schedule that you can see that can kind of really break up your day and keep you organized and on routine. I think that's super important. Now versus kind of going with the flow day to day and trying to make the best of the day. I think routines can really help structure you through a tough time like this, especially when you break it up into into multiple chunks. It's also probably pretty similar to like what you would see in your daily routine with school. So I think somehow trying to translate the two of them together I think is really important. Like right now my niece's have their schedules, which I've done built my schedule around as their dedicated PE teacher during this homeschooling, you know, I got to make sure that they're getting their proper physical education. So I think that is something that's super important and relatively easy to do and then really sticking to it. I think challenging yourself to hold up your end of the bargain with the schedule that you make is really important too, because it will really make these these weeks go by faster, and also keep you mentally tough and strong.
Nice. Oh, those are great. Um, moving on to our Our next section here, I just kind of want to get your thoughts on, you know, from a recruiting aspect if there are some things I know everybody's looking at skill, right? We're all wanting to find that player that we think can hit the ball and set it nicely and get a good block. But are there some other intangibles that you look for as a college coach? Things that you can see as you're as you're watching kids, either on the court and person eventually or you know, through video?
Yeah, I think one thing that really helped me when I was a college athlete was practicing visualization. And that's something that you can totally do with with the sport, you know, not being accessible right now. So, you know, I would say even coming up with like, like a couple of routines, whether in the morning or at night, where you kind of put yourself in pressure situations where you're basically imagining yourself playing sixes and you know, finding a quiet space first where you can practice practice these exercises, but I think visualization is a huge tool that we don't have that much time to tap into. But now is a perfect time to invest in it. Because I think that is the biggest contributor to confidence, especially when you see it over and over again, in terms of being successful, or even making a mistake and then coming back from the mistake visualizing that way, could have a really big factor. Once you're able to kind of get back into the routine of reps and playing with your teammates and playing sixes again, if you have that ability to practice the visualization, I feel like coming back into the sport will be a little bit more accelerated, you won't have like as much rust to kind of knock off. But for me that that that really helped me, especially as I got to like my senior year in college, which could translate to you know, senior year of clubs, Senior High School, being able to be a better risk taker because I've already like mentally put myself in that situation and and worked through it both positively and where the outcome wasn't what I wanted. So I think I'm That's been one of the biggest keys for me in order to be confident and successful on the court was visualization and not really, really realizing it while I was doing it, but then later on reflecting on it and going like, wow, that actually did have a pretty big impact in terms of my success on the court and really allowed me to get better because I was taking more risks because I was confident about taking the risks. Mm hmm.
Okay, great. You did mention a little bit earlier that you know, having that mental side of the game as you just brought up now is pretty important to you. As a coach, and you look back on your successful seasons, you just had one this past fall, what do you think was more prominent the skill or the mental toughness of your players?
Um, I think we focused a lot on this skill. This season, especially with blocking we had a really strong goal, like we want to be top five in the country and blocking blocks per se. And we, we we broke down blocking in a way that was very simple, both technically and how we wanted our team to block, but then also system wise in terms of what we wanted to prioritize. And I think by giving them that structure and the skill set, it was easy for them to lock into it and fully invest. And then we saw success translate right away. But at the end of the day, I think the mental part is what kind of puts you through to the next level when you're right there knocking on successes door, because the mental part, usually you kind of go into matches are already kind of knowing the result without even really realizing you're doing that. But when it comes to like a big conference game or a ranked opponent or so on and so forth, you kind of already have made up in your mind the outcome and if you don't pay attention to that it can be detrimental to your success. So I think as we continue to evolve with the skills and we have the systems that are in place, and we're not having to Teach them Year and Year. Again, we can then dive more into that mental part of not having barriers in front of us. Because a lot of times you see teams that are successful that can battle with a team that's better than them. But those last five points, something switches. And it's like, oh, you remember that before this game, you thought it was impossible to beat this team. And now all of a sudden, that changes your output. So I think it is important to invest in that mental side of it. Because if you can stay confident from the first point, the last point, you know, you're going to be that team that that can do pretty much anything. So for us this year, the skill was something that we really just locked into. And it really put us in some great situations finished number one in the country and blocking per set on but that mental part I think will continue to always improve in terms of getting you to that ultimate level of being a national champion. You can't have bad mental toughness and good skill and be a national champion. You have to have both at a very high level.
Nice Alright, perfect. I'm gonna segue just a little bit because I always like to ask coaches that have coached kind of all over the country. Do you have any sort of ideas on what sets East Coast volleyball apart from say us in the Midwest or style out in the West Coast? What kind of makes you guys unique?
Um, so I think there are definitely different styles of play. I feel like the East Coast is pretty physical in terms of like, on standard systems, but you know, being able to make big swings and big moments, I think the West Coast is really technically sound amazing defense really good read. Just really good systems, good volleyball, IQ. And then I feel like the Midwest is like this great merge of of it all. And I think for us, we're very fortunate that we're able to recruit very nationally. So we have a very diverse team. So I wouldn't even say that we are like an Eastern Team, I would say, we're more like a hybrid team on. And, you know, we have the terrific Diaz's from the west coast with the technical read. We have really good East Coast players that can run our systems and we have Texas hammers that just can hammer the ball beyond belief. So I think it's really unique to be able to bring that type of volleyball background together and have it be like our NYU brand. Um, but I think each region kind of has like a point that they typically Excel more at, when you look at it from a large lens, um, which makes it pretty unique. But uh, you know, we definitely like wrapping our east coast, especially when we play those Midwest, Midwest schools or teams down south. And we know the style is going to change a little bit. But it's been really cool to build our brand of this diverse network of volleyball players from all over the country and showcasing what we can do. Awesome.
Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate you joining us today. Hopefully we can learn some more about you in the future. And I wish you guys luck as we go through this crazy time.
Awesome, awesome. Thanks for having me.
Already, Andrew, I'm just curious how you got started in volleyball. I know that you played back in the day. So I'm just wondering how you got into that and then how that led to your coaching career?
Yeah, so for me, I played soccer for 12 years competitively. And then in high school, I found an after school club. That was boys volleyball, and after being a part of that club for a year during my sophomore year, we decided to go to the Board of Education and pitch starting varsity boys team at my high school. We got very lucky that the night that we were pitching Our idea was the same night our crew team which started a year before was being honored for their successful first season. So after our pitch, we're expecting all this pushback and questions and they basically said you're approved. Welcome to your new sport. So we were super excited, really fortunate to have that opportunity. And we got I got to meet one of my, my first mentors. As a coach, we got super lucky that we had a gentleman that moved to our area who used to be a former assistant, volunteer coach at Ohio State back in the day. And Jim Reed was our first coach for our program and really kind of, you know, took off from there. And then for me, I got recruited really late. I think the big difference between boys and girls volleyball is that on the on the women's side, they're a little bit more ahead in their recruiting process, whereas on the boys side, things happen a little bit later, last minute, so I wasn't recruited until the spring of my senior year to play Division Three volleyball In New Jersey, um, and then actually, believe it or not, didn't go to college for coaching. I studied digital filmmaking. So I got my BA in Communication Arts. And while I was playing unfortunately after like my freshman going into sophomore year, I got hurt and I had to step away. And when I stepped away from the game is when I started to coach and I started off with a girls 15 three's club team. Really, really raw, had a lot of fun coaching them and really teaching them the sport for like the first time that they've been introduced to it. And I'll never forget being at a tournament where one of my friends came up to me during a match and was like, how's everything going? And I was super excited. We're like, we're doing awesome. We're doing great. We're having so much fun. And behind me one of our players when the whistle was blown to serve, decided to toss the ball 20 feet in front of her and run into a jump sir from the 10 foot line, where she then spiked the ball. straight down. And my friend was like, Oh, it looks like you're doing doing really good. I was like, I had to like turn around and get back to coaching. But that was definitely my favorite early memories of the sport of just how exciting it is and how much fun it is to play. And then kind of from there, I started taking on more coaching opportunities. While I was still in high school or college while I was still in college, I started coaching the boys varsity team that I was a member of back at my high school. So now by my senior year when I was healthy again, I was in class in the morning, I was at my high school boys varsity practice in the afternoon. I then went to my college men's practice where I was playing and then at night, I had my girls club practice twice a week. So you know, I was a big believer in like the thousand hour rule that the more you can coach, the better you can get at it. And just being able to take the different perspectives of the teams that I was coaching and the different levels And genders and being able to kind of give and take from each one of them and learn something from from each other. So that was a really awesome opportunity. And then, right after I graduated, I was coaching a girls high school team. And then I had an opportunity to start coaching division one, women's volleyball as a head coach at 23. And it was an amazing opportunity. And the the team before I got there was only 33, the year before. So I actually got hired at the end of their preseason, so they didn't get to have a chance to have a preseason. And I met the whole entire team on the bus on our first ride or on their first trip to their tournament for the year. So that was an unbelievable experience, but it taught me so much about coaching. Because you could pretty much try anything that you thought would work. You could take so many different types of risks because of the fact that you were building success success wasn't there yet. And it was amazing to kind of see how I was able to Get them to invest their time in their academics because it was a level playing field for them. So they had a lot of outside competition when it came to Division Three, being a smaller team, not fully funded, but their academics were somewhere where they were all in a balanced a balanced team. And after our like first and second season, they were a top 10 team in the country in terms of GPA. So they kind of got to see their success in the classroom, which then translated over into the into the court. So I was there for three years. And then towards the end of my time there it was a little bit hard balancing, coaching for teams that one so I was a division one head coach, part time, I was an assistant coach for a men's Division Three college team. I was coaching my boys varsity team, and I was still coaching club. So definitely being spread a little bit thin. And then I had the opportunity to coach full time at Union College in upstate New York. And that was amazing. Because it took all of my time and invested it directly into one program. So it was it was amazing to be able to work with those athletes full time and really get to take that program to another level. And again, also learning about a team by by seeing what their previous coach was like, you know, they had a really good program and their coach went on to do really big things after their after their stop there. And being able to see how they built culture was something that you also get to learn and kind of tailor it to your, to your style. But I was there for three years and had an amazing, amazing time there. And then I had an opportunity to come close to home, which was super exciting to be able to come to New York City and coach at NYU. You know, I think the location has just been absolutely unbelievable in terms of what a typical day is like being in downtown Manhattan, where there's so many opportunity and then just being able to like physically Take my students, academics, you know and have volleyball be something that's facilitated around those academics has been a lot of fun. And then also just the success that we've been having. So quick, it's just been unbelievable because of the culture we had. And just the the high achieving student athletes that are that are part of our program. So for me, it's been a tremendous, like nine years of coaching so far, but it's been super exciting to see where it's taken me and as a division three athlete myself, you know, I find myself really excited to be in this realm, especially coaching at such a high level of division three, where you see players that aren't having to sacrifice one over the other, and they're getting that perfect balance of really good academics and really amazing volleyball. So it's been, it's been an exciting journey.
Nice. Well, that sounds super amazing. Congratulations you for for taking it to that next level. And you're right. It's very unique to be a head coach at such a young age. That's very cool that you've been able to continue coaching.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai