This year, the Athletics Department welcomed three new volleyball coaches: Varsity Coach Shari Sakamoto, Varsity Assistant and Freshman Coach Matt Aquino and his brother, Junior Varsity Coach Carl Aquino.
Sakamoto also coaches for the Sunshine Volleyball Club, and both she and Carl have coached at Harvard-Westlake. Matt works as a personal trainer.
When hiring a new Head Coach, Athletics Director David Collicutt said the Athletics Department looks for a variety of qualifications, including professional excellence, leadership and organizational skills. Above all else, the Athletics Department was searching for a coach who could motivate and inspire the athletes.
Collicutt said he is pleased with his new coaches, as he has heard praise from both the athletes and their parents.
“It’s still very, very early, but all indications at this point would seem very, very positive,” Collicutt said.
According to Matt, volleyball is similar to other net sports in that its goal is to move an object over a net to gain as many points as possible, but the sport requires highly specialized coaching techniques involving posture, attitude and how to physically interact with teammates.
Both Carl and Matt agree that psychological factors, such as absolute focus and alertness, significantly affect players’ in-game performance. Rather than solely focusing on technical skills, the coaches said they will teach the Marlborough athletes how to stay calm and ready during games through simulated match experiences during practice.
One of the main stereotypes that Matt said he works to counter is the idea that boys are better athletes than girls.
“My job is to prove to these girls that they can be just as strong, just as explosive, just as athletic as any other girl out there and any other boy,” he said.
Players like Kate ’14, an outside hitter for the Varsity team, have said they see the coaches efforts into making this season a success as highly motivational.
“[The coaches] inspire the players to work hard and be dedicated as well,” Kate said.
During the 2010-11 school year, the Freshman, Junior Varsity, and Varsity Volleyball teams all won 3rd place in their leagues, with Marymount High School and Notre Dame Academy taking 1st and 2nd. The unanimous goal for this season is to challenge these rivals and place 1st in league using strategic plays designed by the coaches.
But even though the coaches concentrate primarily on teaching these Mustangs valuable skills to use on the court, they said they’d like to do more than improve the girls’ performance as players; Sakamoto, Matt and Carl all said that they also aim to pass on valuable life lessons.
“I want to teach skills beyond volleyball. Life skills,” Sakamoto said. “Sports such as volleyball are good avenues for living life because it’s all about commitment, hard work and sacrifice.”