In physical terms, Traci Dahl will be moving fewer than 10 feet in the same office in her new job. But the chair she inherits carries with it over four decades of experience that she will be replacing.
Dahl was named volleyball’s acting head coach on Dec. 4, replacing the retiring Rosie Wegrich, who completed her 44th year of coaching and 27th year at Cal Poly Pomona in November 2018, when the Broncos bowed out of the NCAA tournament at the hands of Eastern Washington. Dahl arrived in Pomona as associate head coach in 2017 and spent two years in that role under Wegrich. Since her arrival, the team has a record of 37-18 and returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.
“There’s not too much that will change,” Dahl said. “Rosie has built a very solid foundation here at Cal Poly, so it makes it easy to step in and continue that success. Obviously, we’ll put a different spin on it at some point because it’s just two different people.”
Prior to Cal Poly Pomona, Dahl served as head coach of Division I Indiana State University for eight seasons, becoming the school’s winningest volleyball coach.
“Traci has more technical things that she’ll help us out with,” said freshman setter Kira Zimmerman, who was an honorable mention all-American this past season. “She’s more into the blocking and she brings different drills in that usually add different things.”
Dahl officially moved into the role on Jan. 2 and will be the acting head coach through 2019. Using the “acting” distinction in the title means that a mandatory search process will have to be conducted at the end of this year to comply with university policy. A coach on campus is considered a faculty position and must be posted and searched for before a permanent coach is hired.
“I don’t really think about it along those lines, it’s just the process,” Dahl said. “I’m looking forward to the spring … I’m not thinking that far in advance.”
The use of the acting tag when replacing a head coach has precedent, as Athletic Director Brian Swanson opted to name Adam Reeves acting head coach when men’s soccer coach Yossi Raz took the same job at UC Irvine. Reeves spent one year as acting head coach and after the search process, was named the permanent head coach. Using the word acting instead of interim in the title was a conscious decision on Swanson’s part.
“Sometimes as you’re an interim coach you might hedge your bet on some decisions so as an acting head coach, I want you to run the program fully,” Swanson said.
A full national head coaching search typically draws on average 125 candidates once it is posted online and over the course of six to eight weeks the list is narrowed to 10-20 candidates who are seriously considered, according to Swanson.
“As you go through the year it helps determine what type of search process, we’re going to undertake … there’s different ways that you can search it,” Swanson said.
During the break, Dahl started preparing for the spring season by coming up with goals for the team and scheduling four competition dates that are yet to be determined.
The team did not practice during winter break, but players were given workout assignments to do on their own. The position of assistant head coach was also posted during winter break, but Dahl did not provide a specific timeline for when the position would be filled, aside from the new assistant coach, which would be in place well before the spring season. In terms of the roster when heading into the spring and beyond, volleyball is losing five seniors including first-team all-American middle blocker Kristen Hamlin and according to Dahl is “actively recruiting middle blockers and outside hitters.” Two athletes have already committed for the 2019 season, but Dahl declined to share the players’ names or positions.
Last week, Dahl announced that outside hitter Jazminn Parrish signed a letter of intent to join the team in the fall.
The focus of the spring season is to build the “identity” team, which is based on the players who are returning so that come fall, freshmen and transfers can be worked into the mix when the season begins.
“There’s going to be an element of transition across the board,” Dahl said. “The girls coming back are very good, they’re very talented and they’re ready to step into a bigger role.”
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