Sep 21, 2018
On the Same Page

In today’s world, coaches have an expanding tally of constituents to interact with. This may include administrators, fans, alumni, donors, media members, parents, and the community at large. Each one requires a different communication dynamic.

To start, coaches should be sure to keep the lines open with their athletic director, says Beth Launiere, longtime Head Volleyball Coach at the University of Utah. Even though she doesn’t report directly to Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill, Launiere meets with him monthly. She wants to keep him informed about what’s happening within the volleyball program and to hear from him about the Utes’ overall athletic program.

“I don’t know if every coach does that,” Launiere says. “But if they don’t, I suggest they consider asking their athletic director about having this type of regular meeting.”

Similarly, Stephanie Rivera, Head Volleyball Coach at Lutheran West High School in Rocky River, Ohio, tries to email and meet with Lutheran West’s athletic director on a weekly basis. She says the interactions serve several proactive purposes, including ensuring they are on the same page regarding philosophies and behaviors, addressing potential concerns, and building a support structure in the event of an incident involving a student-athlete, parent, or opposing coach.

Positive results can also stem from the way coaches communicate with outside stakeholders such as fans, donors, and alumni. Launiere says she recently spoke to a gathering of Crimson Club Athletic Fund members.

“That’s one of the reasons why we’re in this profession,” she says. “We want to have people be part of our program.”

When talking with supporters, Launiere likes to share inside info. She relays what the team’s plan will be heading into a contest, strategies at play during a match, and what she says to her team postgame. As she does with her players, she strives to be open and honest with fans.

Utes players and coaches also enter the stands after every home game, win or lose, to personally thank fans for attending.

“I watch some other teams, and the players and coaches just run off the court after a match,” Launiere says. “If we did that, I’d feel kind of empty.”

To communicate with parents, Rivera sends printed material home with players. Then she also sends the same thing via email — in case the hand-out doesn’t make it out of their daughter’s volleyball bag.

Some programs use social media accounts to go beyond the basic team updates and share off-the-court news. Additionally, supplemental e-newsletters can keep parents, fans, alumni, and donors in the loop. Depending on a program’s structure, the head coach, an assistant or another staff member will oversee writing, editing, and posting responsibilities.

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