Wade Benson replaces interim head coach Lisa Westlake, who had taken the reigns of the volleyball team after former head coach Myles Kidd stepped down in August.
By: Kelly Manalo
Wade Benson returned to EWU as the new head coach for the volleyball team, replacing interim head coach Lisa Westlake.
Benson was a part of the coaching staff from 1996 to 2006 as head coach for his last seven years. He guided the volleyball team to the Big Sky Conference Finals for five consecutive seasons.
“Historically, he’s a winner. He’s won it everywhere he’s been, at an extreme high level and he’s won previous years in the conference,” said director of athletics Bill Chaves.
According to Chaves, hiring Benson was a unique situation since he had previously coached for Eastern.
“The ability to bring someone back into the fold that has been one of the most successful coaches in Big Sky history was extremely attractive for us,” said Chaves.
Benson originally started at Eastern as an assistant coach to the current senior woman administrator Pamela Parks in 1996.
“Absolute credit goes to Pam Parks. She oversaw the search [for finding Benson],” said Chaves.
“I always kept an eye on Eastern from being a part of it early on. I saw that it had a very tough year and that [the head coaching position] opened up. I thought, ‘We can get that program up and running. Let’s go do it,’” said Benson
Benson believes in developing a great sense of pride in the school. “When you care about the name you are playing for you’re going to put out a great effort,” he said. “You’re going to be the best that you can be and not just for yourself, but also for your family, your school, your coaches, everybody, for each other and the team.”
The team has eight months until the start of the season to get to know each other, understand what the expectations are and learn the system, according to Benson.
At this stage, Benson thinks this is a real trial period for both the players and staff. “I just want to make sure it’s a good fit because I want the kids to be happy and I want to be happy,” he said.
“[My goal is] to get our systems in place and to have an understanding of the way we do things in every aspect,” Benson said.
Having an understanding of one another and making guidelines clear in every aspect is important to Benson. “How we conduct ourselves on the court, off the court, really getting to know the inner workings of the coach-player relationship, that’s pretty big. Making sure things fit for each other,” Benson said.
According to Benson, his biggest job is making sure there is good team unity, understanding and proper respect for each other. “Once you get that going on, then you can be successful,” Benson said.
“I could have the best athletes in the world, but if I don’t have [team unity], then we will reach less than we should. Its not just about the athlete, its more about the connection and how they learn off you,” Benson said.
Winning a championship is hard and the team that wins is usually the most unified team, not the best team on paper, according to Benson.
Benson signed a three-year contract and started his position Jan. 7th on the first day of winter quarter.