By JORDAN KONIOR, Staff Reporter
Anticipation filled the air on Thursday afternoon as the University of Michigan-Dearborn volleyball team was introduced to new Head Coach Eric Stark. The team gathered at the Fieldhouse before traveling to Kochoff Hall, the setting for the introduction.
Stark has previous experience at the collegiate level prior to UM-Dearborn. He was an associate head coach at Oberlin College and an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan University. He replaces long-time volleyball head coach Mike Gibson, who retired last season following 31 years at the helm.
“I just felt that I was ready to start my own career as Head Coach,” said Stark. “I have been learning under different coaches for 12 years and I felt like my time was time now.”
One of the things that the newly-named head coach put a tremendous emphasis on was “family,” and the importance of adopting this model within the team and everything that they do.
Stark best explained his coaching philosophy through the notion of “creating a family environment.” In this philosophy, he explained that you have “a biological family and a volleyball family.” With these two families in place, the support will always be there to “help support student athletes so that they can become successful both academically and athletically here at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.”
As for the future going forward, Stark has big ideas for the Lady Wolverines. He says that he hopes to “build off of the foundation that Coach Gibb (Mike Gibson) has laid for the Lady Wolverines and make it an even better community going forward.”
Some of these ideas for the preseason include a summer workout plan which will get the Lady Wolverines “physically ready,” as well as hosting various camps in which they will both work and participate in to further develop their skill work. The Lady Wolverines will also host countless amounts of open gyms which do not have a set date or time yet.
Stark will put a dramatic emphasis on creating a system where both “player development and recruiting challenging the ladies with every class” to not only help keep the Lady Wolverines motivated, but keep a heavy level of competition within the program.
The Lady Wolverines were nervous going into the meeting. But following the introduction, they, like Stark, were relieved, often smiling throughout the meeting put in place by their new head coach.
“I’m pretty relieved,” said Stark, when asked if he felt relieved knowing he was the newest head coach. “I’ve been excited about this opportunity for some time.”