Following Shay Goulding’s resignation as the BYU women’s volleyball coach recently, assistant coach Shawn Olmstead was promoted to take her place.
Goulding, who was the head coach for three seasons, ended her career as BYU’s women’s volleyball coach with a record of 43-42. Olmstead, meanwhile, acted as the assistant coach, serving as the recruiting, video and defensive coordinator during those three years.
Olmstead reacted positively to the new challenge, stating that his experience will be an asset to the team.
“I’m BYU through and through,” Olmstead said. “Part of athletics is experience, the experience of playing yourself and experiencing those situations yourself. Hopefully I can prepare the girls in practice settings so that when we get into those moments in a real match, they’ll be prepared to make good decisions, good plays and work as hard as they can.”
Olmstead’s has indeed had success as a volleyball player. While attending Carpinteria High School in California, Olmstead was the league’s Most Valuable Player during his senior season. He also set a school record, recording 47 kills in a single match. He later played on the BYU men’s team for four seasons, leading the Cougars to NCAA championships in 2001 and 2004. Olmstead also currently holds the Cougar record for third-most digs in a single season.
On top of his three years of coaching experience at BYU, Olmstead coached for one year at the then-Utah Valley State College, one year at Cal Poly Sans Obispo and two years at Utah State. During his year at Cal Poly Sans Obispo, Olmstead’s coaching improved the team’s previous-year record of 5-24 to 19-6.
When asked what the biggest transition from assistant coach to head coach has been, Olmstead joked that his cell phone battery has been dying a lot at work, and that he’s been needing to bring his charger with him.
“I need to prioritize what’s important for the immediate future, and then I need to worry about the long term [things],” Olmstead said. “Immediately, being in contact with recruits is a vital part of our success. I’m hoping they’ll understand that we’re here, we’re putting BYU volleyball back on the map, we’ll be performing at our highest level and bringing back that strong tradition that BYU has always had.”
Players from the women’s volleyball team shared Olmstead’s enthusiasm. Taeja Afalava, a sophomore from South Jordan studying public health, gave some thoughts on Olmstead’s promotion.
“He’s definitely been a good assistant coach,” Afalava said. “He’s very intelligent, he knows the game very well, and knows what it takes to win, as well as how to bring the team together.”
Afalava went on to say that everyone on the team is ready to work hard, and excited for the new change. Fellow player Kimberli Boswell, a junior studying chemistry education from Portland, Ore., reaffirmed us of the players’ enthusiasm and willingness to work hard to bring about positive change.
“I think he’s going to do a great job. We’re all very familiar with Shawn. He’s very disciplined, and that will make us a better team,” Boswell said.
Boswell, like everyone else, believed that Olmstead’s past as a successful volleyball player was bound to rub off on the team.
“Shawn has a lot of experience, and you can’t beat having a coach like that,” Boswell said. “He knows how to read the ball, when it comes to the hitters. He just has an amazing insight, and that’s something you really can’t learn. It just comes from years of experience.”
While the empty assistant coaching position is yet to be filled, the first match of the 2011 women’s volleyball season will be on Aug. 23. What exactly does the BYU women’s volleyball team have to look forward to this season? Boswell answered that question well.
“The team is young. We don’t divisions in our team. We’re really unified and we love each other,” Boswell said. “You’re going to see some fun stuff from us this year.”