By David Wilson
Volleyball added nine seasons worth of Division I experience to the coaching staff this summer by hiring Traci Dahl as the new associate head coach.
Dahl joins recently inducted American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Rosie Wegrich on Cal Poly Pomona’s staff after spending nearly a decade as head coach at Indiana State University and leaving as the program’s winningest coach.
“Anytime you get an opportunity to get to work for a hall of fame head coach that is a great opportunity,” Dahl said.
The position of assistant coach opened up this spring when last year’s assistant coach Brianna Gonzalez took the head coaching job at Chaffey College.
Wegrich made athletic director Brian Swanson aware of the opening in early May and interviewed a handful of prospective candidates before offering the position to Dahl.
In addition to her experience as a coach, Dahl played at Cerritos College.
She also played Division I at Long Beach State winning a National Championship in 1993.
Despite coaching and playing at the Division I level for over ten years, Dahl does not see that much difference between that level and CPP’s level.
“The athletes we have on this team, I’m training them the same way I would train at Division I,” said Dahl. “I don’t know if you can say that at every school but here you can.”
Dahl described her coaching style as “direct” but also acknowledged that her approach could change depending on the personnel.
“There might be one season where you can start off the season maybe a little more advanced than you would the other seasons because of the youth on the team or the experience on the team,” Dahl said.
In Wegrich’s 26 seasons as head coach at CPP, this is the first year she has been paired with an associate head coach instead of an assistant coach.
According to Wegrich, the main difference between an associate head coach and an assistant coach is experience.
While an assistant coach can sometimes have no previous coaching experience, an associate head coach has served as the head coach of a program.
“She’s had to make those difficult decisions,” Wegrich said. “It’s not just playing time, it’s managing 18 team members and all the things that are involved in a successful program; she’s had experience.”
Dahl officially began at CPP in late July with the season a little over a month away from beginning.
Administrative and organizational business was the priority for the coaching staff in the weeks leading up to the season.
Early on, a practice and weightlifting calendar had to be set up while taking into account team member’s class schedules and coaching commitments such as meetings and retreats.
“Getting a schedule is one of the hardest things,” said Wegrich. “The calendar is really hard.”
Practice planning has become more efficient since the two coaches carpool 30 minutes to and from work.
What used to be a two-hour process for Wegrich now only takes up to 45 minutes of her time.
“That’s freed me up to watch video. I’m watching more video in the office hours instead of my home hours,” Wegrich said. “It’s just freed me up; we’re meeting the setters twice a week with an actual setting plan for two opponents.”
Both Wegrich and Dahl stressed the value in having a coaching staff “accepting the philosophy” and being on the same page and how that leads to success on the court.
“You have one voice, I’m the voice because I’m the head coach but that doesn’t mean I exclude or trash all the assistants input,” Wegrich said. “It’s been good because she’s got a new set of eyes. She doesn’t know these players, now she does, she’s getting to know them.”
Despite only being with the team for two months, Dahl has been able to recognize the strengths of the team.
“There’s really no predetermined conclusions on where players should be,” Dahl said. “We have players that can play in multiple different rotations at any given time and we’re winning, so that’s really attractive.”
Courtesy of CPP Sports Information
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