If you pay attention to the news media it’s likely you will hear frequent references to Millenials, also known as “Generation Me.” By definition, the term refers to people born in the early 1980s to the early 2000s and they’ve been characterized by their lack of work ethic, sense of entitlement, and a narcissistic outlook. In recent years, you can add to the list a dependence on electronic devices, social media and selfies… galore.
The generation has also been referred to as “Trophy Kids,” growing up in an era where everyone received an award just for participating. Do you remember when trophy ceremonies were only for the winners? To say that times have changed is an understatement, but with any stereotype, not everyone fits the label placed upon them. Two young volleyball coaches at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, FL are disproving the theory that Millenials don’t have discipline, motivation or aspirations for achievement.
In 2016, Kristian Robertson and Lauren Corbin, former volleyball players, found themselves leading a team of women only a few years younger than themselves. Any new career is challenging, but when you transition from being on one side of the net as a player to the other side of the net as a coach, it’s a whole new ballgame. Coaching involves more than sports. A coach is a parent, psychologist, mentor, and a friend, yet not a best friend.
Kristian, age 24, played volleyball at Bay High School and after graduating in 2010, she played for the Gulf Coast State College Commodores. After earning her Associate of Arts degree in 2012, she coached as an assistant at Arnold High School and also for a local club league. In 2014, she was hired as the GCSC Assistant Volleyball Coach, but in June of this year the head coach resigned and Kristian was promoted. “It’s completely different on the other side. I’m involved with things I never saw as a player like all the planning and late hours that go into coaching. As an assistant you make a closer bond with the players. As a head coach you have to be a lot tougher on the girls,” shares Kristian.
Lauren, age 22, completed the staff as the assistant coach. The 2013 Mosley High School graduate played on a volleyball scholarship at Columbus State University in Columbus, GA before returning to Panama City to further her education at GCSC. Lauren explains, “It’s an advantage to be close in age because the girls can come to us with anything. We’re more relatable being young. But, it can be hard to set boundaries of respect since we’re their coaches; not one of their girlfriends.”
Outside Hitter, Jenna Erwin, freshman from Middleburg, FL is happy with the young new coaching staff and feels that they care about the players and want the best for them. Jenna finished third in the state for Kills per set. Niceville High School graduate, Tessa Morken, Libero, is a sophomore and has played volleyball since age 10. She had three different coaches in high school so she didn’t have a problem adjusting to the change. Both players, along with sophomore Jordan Rayburn, were named to the All Conference team this year. Sophomore Delia Morin also made the state leader board as fifth in FL for Assists per set.
The team finished 13-18 in 2015. In 2016, the young coaching duo improved the Commodore’s record to 19-8 after losing a close contest in the Panhandle Conference championship against Pensacola State College. The two teams play a series of best three out of five matches and this was the first time since 2009 that it went to a game five. Three additional teams will be added to the conference in 2017.
When I asked both coaches what they disliked about their jobs, they admitted it was losing and the players shared the same sentiment. These young women didn’t say anything about deserving a trophy or a blue ribbon for barely missing the championship title. While they were all disappointed to not come out on top, the coaches were proud of the commitment and effort their team exhibited and have high hopes for the future of the GCSC volleyball program.
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