BUTLER — New Eastside volleyball coach Kent Mitchell said his team is about six weeks behind other schools, but believes his players can make up ground and will show improvement quickly.
Mitchell started working with his new players in July.
“The transition has been slow because the players need to be skilled in multiple areas of the game,” he said. “I started in mid-July which other teams had their coaching staff in place in June.
“I am proud of how hard this group is working and the desire to learn.”
Mitchell spent nine years as head coach at Homestead, winning three sectional championships. When the Spartans won in 2010, it was the school’s first title in 37 years. Homestead added titles in 2013 and 2014. He was an assistant at Concordia for seven years (1997 to 2004) and head coach for three (2005 to 2007). He has also coached club volleyball since 1996.
“I like that in volleyball you have to have six players on the court that are skilled in every area of the game,” Mitchell said. “One player cannot do it all. There is a pass, set and an attack, and this all happens in 3-4 seconds, then you are on defense, which is very exciting. There is no slowing down the game like in basketball.
“My passion for the game is transferred to my players through running a practice that helps players improve and by them being excited about executing a play,” he said.
“Coming in as a new coach, my approach was evaluate skill level and knowledge of the game first,” Mitchell explained. “That will give me my starting point in training.
“I then explain my expectation in practice, listen, improve daily, work hard and build relationship, character and faith in yourself,” he said. “The players want to perform at a higher level in order to win sectionals. They want their picture on the wall.”
Ty Bianski, who has coached with Mitchell at Concordia and Homestead, will lead Eastside’s reserve team. Bianski has 25 years of coaching experience. “We work very well together,” Mitchell said. Ben Gooden is a volunteer assistant coach.
Mitchell’s goal for this season is simple: “That at the end of the season, what they will remember the most is the friendships they have built over the season (and) the funny things that made them laugh.
“These 21 players want to get better and are working hard to improve daily.”