While the WIU volleyball season has been up and running since the beginning of the school year, Head Coach April Hall has been working hard with her new team since March. It is her first season as head coach at Western Illinois University, and she is loving it.
“It’s great, the atmosphere is wonderful,” Hall said, “It’s an amazing opportunity; the community is awesome. I love how family-oriented it is. Several people during games come and introduce themselves; it’s an amazing atmosphere,” she said.
Something about coming to WIU drew Hall from the beginning, “I was debating whether I wanted to take that next step in my career or not [as head coach], and I just did it. I got here, and I fell in love. [WIU] feels like home; this feels like the place to be. Something drew me here,” Hall explained.
Hall has been working very hard with her new team, and is beginning to work on instilling some new ideas. “We had a lot of adjustments with the girls. The practices are very fast-paced and productive. Everything is directly correlated with what we do during a game. Everything has a purpose; everything is productive.”
Hall has been making sure to instill some lessons with her team as well. “Teamwork,” Hall began, “I want to instill teamwork and work ethic. Sometimes I think those get thrown to the wayside. Young generations haven’t gotten to learned that you have to work hard for things if you want to get ahead in life. Ultimately [college life] is kind of like a bubble. We’re going to try and teach them as much as we can and mentor them into the real world,” she explained.
Coach Hall has been working on unifying her team since she has arrived here. “My main focus since March is to get them to like each other. They needed to understand that no single person is going to win a game for us; they can’t win if one person stands out. All spring [training] was about them build[ing] that chemistry, and now I can’t get them away from each other,” she laughed.
Hall’s addition to WIU has brought experience from the Big Ten. Before coming to WIU, Hall was the Ohio State University’s (OSU) volleyball club head coach. This team went to nationals three consecutive years. I asked her how her experience impacts volleyball training. “Honestly,” she began, “We’re training like a Big Ten team. I was with Ohio State for a while, and with Northern Kentucky last year. I was fortunate enough to make it to Sweet Sixteen with Ohio State. I want my staff to be a Big Ten staff, and we all have that experience,” Hall said.
The new staff includes assistant coaches Kyle Shoaled and Brad Taylor. “Kyle is from Purdue,” Hall said, “He was a student manager for five years [at Purdue], and comes from a great family of training. Brad Taylor works with the director of operations and takes care of all the logistics including taking care of the team while we’re on the road.”
Amanda Hokenson is the volunteer assistant for the women’s volleyball team. “She’s great,” said Hall. “She has Big Ten experience, head coach experience, and she’s the wife [of Assistant Coach of Men’s Basketball, Wade Hokenson]. She stabilizes us, we couldn’t function without her.”
The next game is today in Western Hall where WIU faces Kansas City. Next week the Leathernecks will have away games facing Oakland, North and South Dakota State. The next home game for women’s volleyball will be Friday, September 28th. They are continuing their two-game winning streak.
If you want to find more information about this year’s volleyball season, visit http://www.goleathernecks.com/SportSelect.dbml&DB_OEM_ID=12000&SPID=4946&SPSID=49945.