Local Volleyball Programs Are Bringing Opportunities to Girls of All Ages

Volleyball  has become a year-round sport, on the indoor courts and the beach sands, and is catching the liking of girls and boys of all ages. It’s a sport that kids are learning at a young age and can be played on a recreational, competitive and elite level. The season has begun on the high school level and the local girls participating couldn’t be more prepared. Torrey Pines High School Head Coach Brennan Dean and Canyon Crest Academy Head Coach Ariel Haas weigh in on the outlook for their teams, opportunities for girls of all ages and the physicality of the sport. Whether a girl is just starting out as early as third grade or a veteran on the court being watched by college scouts, the sport brings camaraderie, self-esteem, athleticism and a lot of fun for all involved.

Q&A with Torrey Pines High School Girls Head Coach Brennan Dean and Canyon Crest Academy Girls Head Coach Ariel Haas

What is the history behind your volleyball career as an athlete and as a coach?

Untitled-1BD: I grew up playing club in San Diego and sand volleyball along the beaches. I played four years of varsity at Torrey Pines High School (TPHS) and then played at Chico State University. I played every position at one point in my career which I think has helped me as a coach. While I was getting my master’s degree at Point Loma Nazarene University I volunteered with my old high school coach at TPHS, working with the boys. After I graduated, I took a job in Northern California where I met my wife. During that year, I coached a middle school team, a JV high school team, and a 16U club team at Delta Valley Volleyball Club. Then, I got a job at TPHS as a counselor and started working with the girls volleyball team. I worked up to becoming the head coach of the girls volleyball team. I have also been coaching club at WAVE Volleyball Club for the last eight years.


Untitled-2AH: I started playing in 10th grade at University City High School. I was a CIF champion my senior year as well as 1st Team All CIF. From there, I went to UCLA for my undergraduate studies and as a freshman was an undergraduate assistant for the mens volleyball team under Al Scates – the most decorated coach in Division 1 history. They were the national champions that year. I started the girls and boys volleyball program at Canyon Crest Academy (CCA) when the school opened and am currently the head coach for the girls team.

How long have you been the head coach and what enticed you to want to coach?

BD: I have been the head coach at TPHS for two years. I like teaching and I love the game of volleyball. I have fun helping kids improve the technical aspects of their game. I spend endless hours breaking down the game and figuring out ways to beat my opponents. When I stopped playing I had a void in my life. Coaching was the natural way to fill that void.

AH: I have been the head coach since the school opened nine years ago. I have always loved the sport and want to always be around it. I enjoy teaching young people, being around their energy and challenging them. It’s also great to see the kids achieve more than they thought was possible.

Can you provide an outlook for your respective high school girls volleyball team?

[pullquote align=”right”]“The community and school have been an amazing support for me and the team.”
~Brennan Dean[/pullquote]

BD: TPHS should have a strong season this year. We graduated a lot of seniors last year however, I look forward to finding out who is going to step up and fill their shoes. We have some strong returning talent (Rennie, Bueschler and Stephenson) and we have a lot of talent who was on JV who will be coming up.

AH: It’s difficult to say what this year holds. We graduated seven players including four starters. We return a young contingent of experienced and high level players but it’s difficult to predict who and how others will fill the roles of those who graduated. We are expected to be good based on our placement in the new Open Division beginning this year.

What is the most rewarding aspect about coaching? The most challenging?

BD: The most rewarding part of coaching is influencing kids in a positive way on a daily basis. We (coaching staff) always talk about the life skills that players learn at WAVE and at TPHS. We aren’t just teaching volleyball, we want to make sure these kids are ready for the world and ready to become significant contributors to our society. We talk about the relationships that are formed with teammates and how some will even be in their weddings. The most difficult part is when we can’t take everyone on the team. We only have so many spots and it is frustrating when a talented volleyball player is unable to make the team. You know that they could make a varsity team at most high schools, but at TPHS there isn’t a spot because there are other talented players in that position.

[pullquote align=”right”]“Seeing the kids dripping sweat and asking for more is definitely the most rewarding aspect of coaching.”
~ Ariel Haas[/pullquote]

AH: Seeing the kids dripping sweat and asking for more is definitely the most rewarding aspect of coaching. The most challenging – juggling personalities and finding the best way to challenge each individual athlete to play and be their best.

What is your coaching philosophy and how do you instill that upon the girls?

AH: Demand perfection and encourage mistakes. It is important the kids feel comfortable challenging themselves to play outside their comfort zone and to make/learn from their mistakes. We do not like to set expectations, except that each athlete must perform their best during every contact made.

Tell us about the support you receive from parents, volunteers and the community.

BD: The community and school have been an amazing support for me and the team. We have a parent group that helps run our varsity tournament and they do a tremendous job fundraising so that we can attend the top tournaments in the country.

AH: I have an amazing group of parents. They provide energy and encouragement in all sorts of ways. Parents who volunteer in our fundraising efforts have been incredible. They positively encourage their children, and they are passionate about the sport and school.

t.f.-0112Do you have any upcoming events, fundraisers or tournaments you would like to share with readers?

BD: The ASICS CA Challenge is one of California’s most prestigious girls varsity volleyball tournaments. We will have 32 teams from California and neighboring states. We host the tournament at Alliant University that begins on Friday, Oct. 11.

AH: During the season we run three adult volleyball leagues in the evenings as a fundraiser. Visit www.SanDiegoVolleyballLeague.com to learn more.

Tell us about the club programs available in the local area.

BD: The club program that I am most familiar with is WAVE Volleyball. I have been involved in the club for the past eight years. Coast Volleyball, Epic Volleyball Club, Genuine Volleyball Club and San Diego Volleyball Club are other great clubs in our area that draw girls from the communities.

What is the benefit of playing for a club team?

BH: The benefit of club is year-round training at a high level. The coaching staff at WAVE Volleyball is unbelievable. On staff we have coaches who have played international indoor and beach volleyball, won Olympic medals and who have played at amazing universities.

AH: Girls will have additional repetitions and high-quality feedback along with exposure to college coaches looking to recruit young talented athletes. Plus, there is more opportunity to have fun and play the game they truly love.

Is it essential to play for a club team if you play on the high school team?

BH: It is not essential to play club to make the high school team, but most girls who play on varsity for their high school are playing club.

AH: No, although it helps. Most of the players on my varsity team play club of some sort. It is almost a necessity in order to compete for your spot on the team. I wish it wasn’t this way as I have always been a big fan of the multi-sport athlete who is afforded the opportunity to play many different sports. Being able to play multiple sports helps to prevent burnout, keeps girls physically healthy and provides a lot of fun experiences.t.f.-9901

Is it difficult for a girl to become involved with the sport as a teenager if she hasn’t played in youth leagues?

AH: No. We have had and continue to have players new to the sport entering high school play on our novice team. Previous experience helps but is not required.

What is the typical age a girl might start playing volleyball? What’s the draw to the sport?

BD: Players can start playing volleyball as early as third grade. We see most players starting around fifth or sixth grade. The draw to the sport is the fun and fast-paced environment. The thing I love about volleyball is you can play a game with four people, six people, eight people, etc.

AH: Usually between the ages of 10 and 13. The draw to the sport is the opportunity to play on a team in a fast-paced exciting sport with a lot of game time opportunities.

What is the training regimen for volleyball players as far as conditioning, preparing, improving and succeeding at the sport?

AH: Play, play, play. Eat right. I encourage the girls to always push themselves physically to get better.

Is there any local talent who has gone on to play on a collegiate and/or professional level?

BD: There are dozens. San Diego has become a hotbed of volleyball talent.

AH: Tons. Last year from CCA we had four graduates move on to play at four-year schools. We have collegiate athletes coming out of CCA every year. Two years ago we had a player on the USA Volleyball Junior National Team and on the U.S. Girls’ Youth National Volleyball Team (only 12 players from across the country make the team).

Sand volleyball has gained popularity since it has become such a visible Olympic sport. Has this spiked the interest in the sport on a high school level?

AH: It’s difficult to say whether it spiked interest, but it has opened the door for sand volleyball to become a larger draw through the clubs. Last year we attempted to start sand volleyball as a high school sport. It is not a CIF sport yet but we envision in another two to three years it will be. CCA was one of eight teams around the county that competed in the inaugural season of San Diego sand volleyball in high school. We have three sand courts on campus so it made fielding a team much easier.

t.f.-9993Please tell us about your family.

BD: I am married to Kristen Dean who supports me like no other and, of course, I have to mention my world renowned dog, Wallie.

AH: My wife Kelly and I have two children – son, Campbell (5), daughter Genevieve (1 ½ ).

What are your hobbies and interests?

BD: I love to read motivational, management and leadership books.

AH: I enjoy playing and coaching volleyball, photography, entrepreneurship, playing with my kids, traveling and gardening.

What is your favorite thing about being part of the local community?

BD: I love giving back to the community that gave me so much.

AH: Everybody is so kind and generous. They are passionate about their kids and encouraging the success of their children. They are athletic and find sports, especially for our youth, to be important.

Did You Know

In 1895 an instructor at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) by the name of William Morgan decided to blend elements of basketball, baseball, tennis and handball to create a game for his classes that would demand less physical contact than basketball. The “Y” took this new game around the world and introduced a uniquely American sport to many foreign lands. In 1916, the Philippines made its own contribution to volleyball by introducing an element of offense that would forever change the game. A receiving player would pass a ball in a high trajectory that would then be struck by another player. The set and spike were born.
[divider] There are more than 46 million Americans who play volleyball.
[divider] This game was first introduced to Olympic competition at the Tokyo Games of 1964.
The U.S. won its first medals in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics when the men captured the gold and the women the silver.
[divider] There are 30 rules of the game of volleyball.

Funny Terminology

by John Kessel

Chickenwing: A last-ditch way to dig a ball using your elbow and a bent arm.
Facial Disgracial: A spike that hits the opposing blocker or floor defender in the face.
Husband and Wife: When a serve drops untouched between two receivers who fail to move; each thinking the other’s going to get it.
Kong Block: A blocker who only uses one arm to block, the other arm hangs either by the side, or on the net, like King Kong swatting at planes from the Empire State Building.
Pancake: A one-handed floor defensive technique where the hand is extended and slid along the floor, palm down, and the ball rebounds off the back of the hand, rather than the floor.
Waffle: Missing a spike completely or just off the tips of your fingers.

Club Programs

San Diego Volleyball Club has been a part of the community for over 25 years. As they approach their fifth season in the 4S Ranch facility, they continue to teach volleyball skills, teamwork and self-esteem, in the spirit of competition to their participants.

Epic Volleyball Club is primarily a junior club for boys and girls. The club fields traveling teams that compete in the Southern California region and non-traveling teams for girls that compete only locally. The club also provides training programs, clinics and summer camps. The club operates out of a permanent, state-of-the-art, five-court facility located in Poway.

Wave Volleyball is a family-oriented club, with a goal to provide the finest possible volleyball experience to every athlete that is involved in the program – as a player, person and student/athlete. All WAVE teams practice at the Fairgrounds Volleyball Center – the “Big White Tent” located just west of I-5 near the San Diego Fairgrounds. The center was designed strictly for volleyball with ample room around each court, high ceilings and hundreds of volleyballs.

Genuine Volleyball club is located in Carlsbad. They offer elite indoor volleyball training opportunities 12 months a year incorporating sports specific training, and globally certified instruction with a very dedicated and qualified staff.

COAST Volleyball Club is a program that brings together teachers of fantastic origins with one common interest, to serve kids. The club offers elite, regional and local programs in Sorrento, Inland North County, Chula Vista, Solana Beach, La Jolla and Point Loma.