Over the past few seasons, Coach Stephanie Adams has been a critical component in helping increase the program’s numbers, as well as making sure her participants are in great shape.
On Wednesday, Dedham Patch caught up with Coach Adams to discuss the upcoming season, as well as how she’s changed the culture of volleyball at the high school.
How many years have you been coaching at Dedham?
“This will be my third year as the head coach. I did coach before at Cardinal Spellman and Whitman Hanson. I began teaching at the middle school [a few years ago] and then I was brought on to coach here, so this is my third year as the varsity volleyball coach.”
Did you play volleyball in high school or college?
“I played high school volleyball at Whitman Hanson and then I played at UMass-Boston.”
Entering your third year at the helm, what do you think has worked for this particular program over the past few seasons?
“When [I first started] the numbers were really, really low and coming from a coach that had been here for 20-years, she was kind of stuck in her ways of how things worked and the girls weren’t as conditioned as well as I had liked them to be and she had a different coaching style then I did."
"So, when I [became the head coach], some of the returners weren’t used to my coaching style, so the past three years I think I have been able to give this a program a better idea that they need to be more conditioned. We [practice and play] volleyball a different way and I coach it a different way when we have games. I stay with pretty much the same the six on the court and if we’re winning they’ll stay in there and they’ll keep playing because I want a competitive volleyball team"
"[Also], teaching at the middle school, I’ve also started a volleyball clinic where I’ve started to bring up the younger girls and get them involved in the sport because around here in the offseason there’s really nothing much to get the girls experience, so this year, we’ve had 42 girls come in to tryout for the teams. Last year was probably about 30 and the year before that the numbers were very low, and we [barely made] a varsity team, but the JV and freshmen teams were low, so we were struggling trying to find numbers to get them on the teams."
"Last year was a little bit better, but this year we’re going to have three full teams, which I’m super excited about and then the girls this year, they’ve really impressed me coming in nice and conditioned because they know that over the summer they have to work hard because the first day of double sessions, so I think this year is going to be a really good year for us.”
Do you personally feel a sense of accomplishment with improving the program through your clinics?
“Absolutely. The freshmen girls trying out right now are the biggest class out of all of them. Our freshmen is the biggest class, we have about 15 of them, and then we have our junior class and then we have about four sophomores and three seniors, so seeing how many more freshmen we have and keeping up with the clinic [at the middle school], I think the numbers are going to keep growing and eventually it’s going to be like a Newton North or Braintree or Weymouth [program here in Dedham], where they have like 60 girls trying out for teams, so that’s kind of where I’m going with that.”
Looking back on last season, what were some positives and things you’d like to improve this year?
“We a lot of good team chemistry on the court, which is really, really good, and we started off with a setter last year. It was her first year setting and she did a lot of offseason camps and a lot of playing, so coming in the first day of tryouts she was phenomenal, so I’m really excited for our setter this year. Last year, our big hitter Jodie Munchbach was only a junior, and she was phenomenal and she traveled the country this year going to play at different camps and different leagues, and coming in again the first day here, she blew me away with her hitting, so I think that’s going to be another huge thing. I think our offense is going to do really, really well at the net. We have a couple new players at the net this year. We have a sophomore, Alison Sullivan, who should bring us some good height and some good depth at the net. However, right now we’re focused on our passing game, and we just have to work on that and moving to the ball because the girls get lazy sometimes and they think the ball is going to come right to them and they don’t move their feet, so we’ve just got to work on that a little bit more, but other than that if we can get the pass, [we’ll have someone] ready to get the set and I think our offense is going to be key for us this year.”
What is your team’s main goals or objectives for the upcoming season?
“Well, last year we had six wins, which is maybe bigger that they’ve been in the past five year, so I’d like to see us reach at least .500 record this year, which would be huge for us. The way our team is right now I think we can be .500, I think we can be even more than that, so it’s definitely a huge goal for us. The other goal is probably is to just get the good team chemistry and keep working with our JV and freshmen teams and not have the girls be secluded from varsity. Have them help the JV and have them help the freshmen that way we can keep building our program up a little bit more.”
Finally, what makes Dedham volleyball such an attractive sport? How have you been able to lure potential players into the gym?
“I don’t know if it was my clinic or if it’s just my personality, and then I also think the Olympic volleyball this year over the summer, I think that definitely had a boost in a lot of the girls. And then even coming in the first day, some of the juniors and seniors were [amazed by] how many girls we have and I think it’s made more competitiveness trying out because some of the girls [realized] there was actually going to be cuts this year and now we want to improve. I don’t know, but I love it and I was so excited when I saw 40 girls coming out and I don’t know if it was my clinic or just showing the girls what volleyball is and showing what it’s about.”