Friday, January 28, 2011

Brian Yale: Entrenador!!

Alright, raise your hand if you know where Edinburg, Texas is?

Half of you are liars.

For that bunch and those who stayed still during questioning, just think South. How South? Really, really, really far down there in Texas south. Edinburg, Harlingen, McAllen, Brownsville - they are all within, oh, 50-60 miles of each other in the southern most tip of our great state. Still a bit lost? Let's see if you recognize this one: South Padre Island. There you go. Go an hour and half west of South Padre and you'll hit Edinburg.

Count Brian Yale as the newest resident there as in recent days Coach B has secured what many have known he was destined to: a head volleyball coaching job in the NCAA ranks. Let me introduce to you the new head volleyball coach at UT-Pan American, Brrrrrrrrrrian Yale. Had to type it, 'cause I won't get to growl it anymore - unless I just feel like it one time during a 2011 match at which point, I'll probably get fired.

I'm gonna pile on to what others have been saying all week and I mean this seriously: This is well-deserved.

Check this out though: Yale is originally from Eden, New York (yeah, you'll have to Google Map that one, too) and then found his way to Bowling Green State University. You probably know that's in Ohio. Then again, maybe you don't. Southern folks confuse Bowling Green, Ohio and Bowling Green, Kentucky from time to time. Anyway, after playing and studying there he coached high school volleyball in the same general area before coming down to Texas. Well, we should say, coming down to Deep East Texas. Now, Yale finds himself in Deep South Texas. From Eden to Edinburg: That's a long way.

From Bowling Green, OH to Nacogdoches is far - roughly 1000 miles. But, Texas is big my friend. Nacogdoches to Edinburg is roughly half that far - clocking in at just under 500.

Those in the know (I'm really not) are aware that Yale has been ready to take the reigns of his own program for a few years now. Other opportunities that were close to coming to fruition are all dust under the rug now as Yale has already told me via email he is scrambling to learn new things, new people and get his team for 2011 in order.

When we exchanged brief emails last week, he wrote a remark about possibly crossing paths again (which I sincerely hope occurs) - after all, maybe one day UTPA would find themselves in the Southland Conference (which I hope doesn't happen). I'd be lying if Yale's tongue-in-cheek reference to the Broncs joining the SLC one day hadn't been uttered by other folks I know associated with NCAA Athletics and SFA, in particular. That discussion though is for another day - and another post - as the focus here is squarely on lauding Yale.

I am lucky. Coaches and players and members of athletic offices don't really have to be nice to peons like arena announcers and bloggers. While Brian and I didn't tend to "talk volleyball" as much as Debbie and I do, or even as much as assistant John Critzer and I probably will, one thing is for sure: Brian was always gracious, jovial in his own rather quiet way and conveyed to me a deep sense of volleyball knowledge. This guy's gonna do fine. Just fine.

Occasionally - well, usually - after home matches, I'll hang around. You know - read the box score, talk to Ben (even though he is still working), talk to parents, players, fans - whatever. Sometimes, the crowd would dissipate and I'd find myself in the orbit of a conversation between Debbie, Erin and Brian or Debbie, Brian and John. When this would happen and I would interject a comment, almost always my brain starting working overtime trying to tell my mouth: "Shut Up and Listen, Shut Up and Listen, Shut Up and Listen". Yeah, maybe I THOUGHT that we didn't play good back row defense, or didn't serve well or whatever... but then Brian would often make some short statement about that night's play and I'd think: "yeah, he's right". Then my brain would click: "Well, duh, of course he's right - he's a coach - your a... your a... well... you're someone who announces kills and blocks and stuff. Shut up, you idiot."

Now let's be clear: Brian wasn't telling me I was wrong (even though odds are FAR in my favor that I was). Brian was just communicating how well he picks up on things in a subtle, unpretentious way. I like that. I found myself wanting to listen to him more.

The players really liked Coach B. Now truth be told, head coaches tend to get more flak from athletes. Hey, they are the final authority, so they are the ones people get ticked at when people decide to get ticked. Nonetheless, I don't have memory of anyone speaking poorly of Brian the entire time I've been relatively close to the club. In fact, quite the opposite. Players, parents, and his colleagues would often praise him. Sure, I didn't hear everything - but when people did convey a memory or opinion to me, it was positive.

So good luck, Coach B. You'll be missed. You've got a wonderful family in Shannon, Kenzie and Kendall. I will say without getting too personal, that I witnessed several times Brian "being a Dad". I respect him for that. His obvious commitment to the three girls most important in his life supersedes this game with net and ball.


On the horizon: Hey, its winter and there's no volleyball to watch. WRONG!! Critzer (say it like this in your best hit man voice: C-RIGHT-ZAH) and I are going to drive down to Pearland next weekend to watch the Greater Houston Volleyball Coaches Association All-Star Tournament. This will be my first look at Katzy Randall, Paige Holland and Jill Ivy. Those three will be wearing purple next Fall and along with other freshmen recruits will look to immediately place their stamp on the program. Randall, Holland and Ivy will each participate on different teams in the four-team all-day event.

I understand that NCAA regulations restrict what commentary I can give until these athletes arrive on campus next Fall, so I am not planning on doing a write-up of the tournament. We'll have plenty of time to talk about and actually talk to these three and the others later in the year. Needless to say, the look of the team in 2011 will be quite different than the look in 2010 due to turnover. I don't want to spend a lot of time looking back at a disappointing 2010 season. I'd rather focus on and get excited about the prospects of 2011. That being said, look for a few posts during the coming weeks about "2010 In Review". As always, I have a few statistical posts brewing and I'll share those during the Spring as well.

Comments and email to are always welcome.