Big Ten volleyball is arguably the toughest conference in the nation. When head coach Bond Shymansky took over the program in 2014 he knew he would be in an uphill battle. I recently sat down with Coach Shymansky to talk about how he has made the program successful and about his recruiting.
- 1.) What are the keys to developing a strong culture in and out of the gym amongst your players and staff?
Coach Shymansky: “The key is making sure everybody knows and understands the daily mission. Our mission is True Mental Toughness and is defined by treating others very well, giving your very best, having a great attitude and being unconditionally grateful regardless of circumstances.”
2.) Iowa Volleyball has grown immensely since you were named the head coach, what is the secret to your continued success in the Big Ten and how do you plan to continue this?
Coach Shymansky: “ We have all worked hard to rally the Hawkeye community and it shows in our attendance and atmosphere. Our team has to grow and evolve and that takes risk and failure. But we can always see and feel the growth you see at the surface, and it is very rewarding. The outcome will continue to be more and more winning, but the process of our mission is where we find out daily focus and our joy.
3.) How has your recruiting tactics changed from being at Marquette vs. Iowa?
Coach Shymansky: “ The approach is basically the same, it starts with getting to know the people. The difference is that the bar is higher, so the number of players who are capable of competing successfully in the Big Ten is small. Only the best of the best will win in our league.”
4.) How do you identify the factors that differentiate the good from the great in recruiting kids to Iowa?
Coach Shymansky: “ Beyond the obvious physical talents, we pay close attention to team interactions, non verbal actions, parents….that’s right, parents. Do the parents give strong discipline and structure? Do the parents know their daughter has to improve and and will struggle in that journey? Parents are a great determinant for the way their daughter will respond when the challenge becomes great.
5.) I have noticed you focus a lot on ball control and bringing defensive specialists on scholarship at Iowa, this is very rare throughout the volleyball world. Why do you feel it is important to have a scholarship DS?
Coach Shymansky: “ A great libero can change the whole mentality and identify your team. The libero is on the court the whole match and has tremendous value, so we want to reward that value. However, liberos don’t score points, so we allocate very limited scholarship dollars for that position.”
6.) If you could pinpoint one characteristic you look for in an athlete, what would that be?
Coach Shymansky: “ GRIT. Grit when things are tight. Grit when things are tough. Greit when the team needs someone to follow.”
Thank you to Coach Shymansky for his time and most of all his leadership of the Iowa Volleyball program. GO HAWKS!