Women's volleyball coach Diane Flick has more wins (175) and a better winning percentage (.788) than any other coach in Western athletics' history. She ranks 10th among all other active NCAA Division II coaches and has been named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Coach of the Year five times. She may be on the way to a sixth time as the 2008 Viking volleyball team is already on pace for another breathtaking season, starting the year 13-0 before losing their first match.
So how does she do it? The AS Review sat down with Flick to find out.
AS Review: The team is off to a fantastic start this season—what's been the secret to success?
Diane Flick: “I'm not sure we have any secrets. We've carried on some traditions from the previous years. I think we came in with a good offseason, so I think we prepared well for the preseason and having a good start to our season. Now we just need to learn from some of the hiccups we've had in the last couple of weeks.”
ASR: What's your mantra in terms of coaching?
DF: “I just think that the more invested your student-athletes are in the process, the more they are going to feel a part of what they do. It's really important for us to have not just a dictatorship from the top, but more of some input from our players to know the things that we want to work on, the things that they're feeling, how they're doing at the time. I think that a collective effort from the players, coaches, trainers and everybody that's a part of the program [makes for success.]”
ASR: How has the team dealt with losing four key senior players from last season?
DF: “They were four important people who contributed to our success last year quite a bit, but they also left a legacy of how to train, and that helped prepare the ones that were going to take their spots so that we can continue what we're doing. This year's theme of the team is ‘Tradition Never Graduates,' so it's a continuation of the foundation of principles that they live by that helps us be successful.”
ASR: Is this team better than last season?
DF: “I don't think they're comparable. I think they're two separate teams and I think that's how it should be. Each team should have its own identity as leadership changes hands and players gain experience. They are just two totally separate groups of people, but again they have the same common values.”
ASR: After a 13-0 start, the team suffered two upsetting losses, one in front of a home crowd. What happened?
DF: “I think that when you have a big target on your back, you can start feeling the pressure. I think we started to focus on the wrong things as far as the ‘what ifs' as opposed to the ‘what should we be doing right now?' We just have to regain what's important and continue to do those things. The fact is that if you focus on the right things…we wouldn't be having this conversation.”
ASR: What are your goals for the rest of the season?
DF: “I want us to get better throughout each and every match. I want us to learn from each match…then just keep getting experience in those things and focusing again on the right things to get better at as opposed to what the big picture is. Keep it small.”
ASR: What obstacles do you foresee?
DF: “We have tough opponents and a lot of them are on the road, so it's just going to be a challenge of maintaining what it is that makes us successful, and then just keep doing those things and not thinking we have to do anything complex to get better.”
ASR: Can Western fans expect to see you in the NCAA Division II national title game again this year?
DF: “Only time will tell. We're going to do everything we can to get there.”