For the rest of the fall season, Georgia’s club volleyball team has only one tournament left. Even though their season is coming to an end, they have done well this season, winning two tournaments and beating Florida's club team for the first time in three years.
And they did all this without a head coach.
Georgia’s club team is different from most teams because the athletes do not play under the instruction of a coach. Instead, they are lead by three captains: Ryan Boykin, Haylea Mannebach and Ellie Pryor.
The captains are in charge of everything from making the schedule and setting up their budget to ordering apparel and organizing transportation and lodging for when they travel. Georgia’s club team even has a presence in the community, and the captains help to facilitate community events.
"Acting as coaches, it keeps us invested in the current and future success of the team and the club program as a whole."
- Ryan Boykin, Georgia club volleyball captain
Some club teams at other schools do have a coach, but Georgia does not. Not having a coach posed as an obstacle for the team to overcome, but the three captains helped to fill this empty role.
“We recognize that at times having a coach would be helpful, but we prefer to fill this role because we have an inside perspective on how the team works,” Boykin said. “Acting as coaches, it keeps us invested in the current and future success of the team and the club program as a whole.”
Their success this semester was credited to the team’s proficient communication skills and trust in each other.
“The team quickly developed chemistry on and off the court, which was evident in the communication and physical abilities during games,” Boykin said. “[Beating Florida] was a huge accomplishment for the team, and we credit this success to each and every player contributing their full effort and passion to playing the game that we love.”
Playing beside their teammates while also coaching creates challenges for the team captains, and Mannebach said it is difficult to find a good balance of both. Boykin also added that it is difficult making decisions regarding playing time when they are all friends with each other.
The captains have overcome these obstacles by staying true to their leadership position.
“Overall, we enjoy leading and representing this team as both players and coaches. The players on the team are very receptive to critique and respect our decisions, so leading them is usually not very difficult,” Boykin said.
Having this extensive leadership role has impacted the captains and has left a long-lasting impression on Mannebach.
“I would definitely consider coaching in the future. I really enjoy seeing what is behind developing a team from making the practice plans, ensuring there is team bonding, how to facilitate the best schedule we can make with the most competition, to the other considerations coaches look at when developing a team,” Mannebach said.
Looking forward, the captains are beginning to focus on second semester now that their fall season is coming to an end. Next semester, the team will compete at the National Club Volleyball Tournament in Denver, Colorado. In order to attend Nationals, they must participate in a ranking tournament.
“Our goal is always to do as best we can, specifically to win the ranking tournament, in order to be seeded high in National rankings,” Pryor said. “Our entire season is working toward nationals.”