Former Cougar player now men’s volleyball assistant coach

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The BYU men’s volleyball team is benching former four-year starter Jaylen Reyes — but in a good way. The old Cougar star will be back in the Smith Fieldhouse this upcoming season as the newest assistant coach for the men’s team.

But becoming a BYU coach wasn’t always the plan for Reyes.

“(My family) grew up not liking BYU because they’re always good and they always beat my dad’s guys,” Reyes said. Reyes’ father coached volleyball for the University of Hawaii.

Yet in spite of his early negative sentiment toward the Cougars, as well as growing up non-LDS, Reyes chose to play at BYU.

“This place has changed my life coming to school here; they really support men’s volleyball and it’s just a blast to play here in front of four–to–five thousand a night,” Reyes said. “The goal is always to win a national championship.”

Ari Davis
Reyes celebrates after a point in a match against UC Irvine last year. He is now the assistant coach after starting as libero the past four seasons. (Ari Davis)

Reyes thrived while at BYU. He was the starting libero (defensive specialist) in each of his four seasons with the Cougars. Reyes helped the team to back-to-back conference regular season and tournament titles as well as NCAA tournament appearances in 2013-14. He was an All-America honorable mention in 2015, and is the the all-time rally scoring era leader in games played (431) while coming in second in digs (762).

Reyes had plans to play professional volleyball internationally after graduating from BYU, but he also knew that at some point he wanted to get into coaching. Then the BYU coaching staff changed and the opportunity to be an assistant coach opened up.

BYU men’s volleyball head coach Shawn Olmstead went about the search like any other job search.

“I was fortunate to be familiar with all of the candidates not only as teammates, but also as alumni of the program,”  Olmstead said. “But I feel like there were things that began to set (Reyes) apart as a candidate.”

Reyes brings a unique recruiting network and a strong work ethic to the program. Reyes had an in-depth knowledge of the volleyball world even before coming to BYU. He has seen all aspects of men’s volleyball because of his father’s coaching career and has many connections with the volleyball community. Olmstead believes that Reyes can easily connect with young players in talking with them about his BYU experience and encouraging them to come to BYU as well.

Reyes can also relate to non-LDS athletes who are unsure whether or not to come to BYU.

“I am able to share that four years ago when I made the decision to come to BYU, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have changed anything.” Reyes said. “I think it’s the best place to play college volleyball.”

Reyes likes to work hard, something he has done over the past four years in the BYU volleyball program, and also brings continuity to a new coaching staff.

Natalie Stoker
Reyes lunges for a dig in a game against Pacific during the 2014 season. Reyes said he sees this opportunity to help coach his alma mater as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. (Natalie Stoker)

“I kind of look at myself as the bridge from the old staff to the new staff,” Reyes said. “Sometimes they have questions about how we did things before and maybe how we can change things. I’ve been teammates with 19 of the 21 guys. I know them really, really well.”

Reyes sees his new position as an opportunity to train players and help the team to win volleyball games.

The upcoming season should be exciting for all Cougar fans. Ben Patch, an All-American, is returning from his mission, and several of the team’s players took time to train with national teams over the summer. The mix of experienced players with a new coaching staff should help as BYU works to get back into the conference and national championship championship race.

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