B1G changes are underway for the Maryland volleyball program. With a new coaching staff and a challenging schedule on the horizon, the Terps are poised to take the program to new heights as it transitions into the Big Ten Conference. Follow along with our weekly installment of the Maryland Volleyball Summer Series as we take an inside look at the program leading up to first serve on August 29 against Elon.
The Adam Hughes File
Hometown: State College, PA
Alma Mater: Penn State ‘06
Favorite College Park Eatery: Bagel Place
What drew you to Maryland? The number one reason was the chance to coach in the Big Ten. I’ve always wanted to coach in the conference, so it’s a big deal for me. I also knew I wanted to work for Steve Aird. He’s a coach I believe in and I knew that wherever he went, he was going to be successful. And then I think what we can do here at Maryland as far as selling points with academics and location. Knowing all this school has to offer makes it a unique position where I think we can be successful and that plays into location, academics, athletic department.
What do you most like about coaching for Steve Aird? He keeps you really involved. He’s got a horizontal structure where you always know what’s going on. He’s got us heavily involved and we have input in what happens. Some places you have a specific role and that’s all you do, while here you get to do a little bit of everything. He doesn’t have to do that, but he chooses to help us out that way so we get to see all the angles. From a gym side, I’ve seen him be successful before and he’s an excellent coach so I’m always learning from him and others around me. But the best part is definitely being involved in almost every aspect of the program, it’s been a really good experience so far.
Desrcribe your coaching style. My personal style has always been based on how I grew up being coached and I always want to know why things are done. I always want to know why I’m doing things and then I can figure out how I need to do it. I really enjoy teaching and I like to explain what they can do and then how they can do it. I’m a pretty positive guy and I really like to be hands-on with the learning aspect of coaching. I see coaching as being a teacher more than just telling you to do something because I said so. I think a big thing for me is always teaching the players why they are doing things and why it’s important.
What made you get into coaching? When I was at Penn State, I finished with an economics degree. As soon as I was done, I vividly remember walking into head coach Russ Rose’s office and I had no idea what I wanted to do in the future. His line to me that I still remember to this day was ‘what is your favorite part of the day?’ And I remember saying it was coming to volleyball practice every day. He encouraged me to pursue coaching and go after it. The following year I volunteered at Penn State and it showed me what coaching was all about and after that I was hooked – it was a no-brainer for me.
What kind of players are you looking for while recruiting? I think right now we’re looking for players with a chip on their shoulder. I think it’s someone that wants to do something special and wants to do something nobody else has done. The Big Ten has offered us that because it’s a fresh start. I think we’re looking for a kid who wants to create their own tradition and I think the kids we’re bringing in right now are all those types of kids.
What do you enjoy most about living in the DMV? I haven’t had much free time, but having the metro and being so close to D.C. and Baltimore is incredible. I love baseball, so going to Orioles and Nationals games has been big for me. There are so many options when it comes to concerts and restaurants. I’ve got an amazing fiancée and we enjoy taking our dog to various outdoor parks in the area. It’s the best of both worlds because you’re close to a lot of things happening, but you don’t feel like you’re in an urban setting.
The Kristin Kenney File
Hometown: Walnut Creek, CA
Alma Mater: Boston College ‘07
Favorite College Park Eatery: Ledo’s Pizza
What excited you about coming to Maryland? In one of my first conversations with Steve Aird, he laid out his vision for the program and I understood what a unique opportunity we have here. Maryland is a fantastic academic institution in the best volleyball conference in the country, the Big Ten, and they just hired a National Championship head coach. While playing at BC I played here twice in ACC matches and remember thinking it was a beautiful school, with a great athletics program, but in college you pull up to the school, play your match and leave. So I don’t think I knew as much about Maryland as I wanted to. After spending some time with Steve on campus, I knew that Maryland would be a place that we can have a lot of success. There’s no doubt it’s going to take some time and Steve’s vision for the program is massive, but he’s an extremely talented coach and leader and I think he can get it done if he has the right people around him and we are all able to do the right things. I think we have the potential to do something really big here and that’s very exciting.
How has your Master’s degree from Harvard in psychology helped you as a coach? There are times when I believe I learned more from getting my Master’s at Harvard about how to teach and coach than I did during my playing days on the court. Coaching is teaching, so it’s not always about what we say, it’s about our ability to get our players to understand and perform. I was so lucky to have had the opportunity to be around some brilliant professors, mentors, and students during my time at Harvard and it has definitely shaped the foundation of who I am as a coach. I really enjoy sharing books, articles and ideas from my time at Harvard with my players and other coaches.
What kind of culture is the coaching staff trying to build? We want to be a gym where kids want to come and train. I think when players want to be around the gym, they are going to perform better. So we are trying to create an environment in which players want to be involved, train really hard, and go above and beyond because that’s the way we are going to have success in this conference. I think we’re a pretty positive group, but we’ll grind. Practices are going to be tough and high energy, and I think it’s going to be a very positive environment which is very conducive to learning.
What made you get into coaching? I’ve always had a passion for teaching and coaching, and would spend my summers coaching clinics and camps as far back as I can remember having a job. I love coaching at a high level and I really enjoy training the team to compete on a big stage. I think I’ve always been leader on the teams I was on as a player, and it was a natural transition for me to move on to coaching. As I’ve continued in my career my love for coaching student-athletes has just continued to grow.
What kind of players are you recruiting? We believe when you’re building a program, character is just as important as talent. So we want to bring in players that have a bit of a chip on their shoulders. We want players that aren’t scared to play some of the best players in the country and kids who want to write their own history. For us, it’s about finding players that want to leave a legacy and want to be a reason why the program accomplished what it did.
How do like living in the DMV area? D.C. is unbelievable. I’ve already had family and friends come and visit and we’ve checked out the museums and landmarks. I’m a history buff, so I’ve really enjoyed exploring that side of things. On the 4th of July, we watched the fireworks go off right over the Washington Monument, I think that was definitely one of the coolest things we’ve done since we’ve been here. Growing up in California, I love being near the water, so it is great having Annapolis, Baltimore, and the beach right down the road. There’s just so much to do here, I know I haven’t even scratched the surface.
The Stephen Yates File
Director of Volleyball Operations
Hometown: New Bedford, Mass.
Alma Mater: Emmanuel College ‘06
Favorite College Park Eatery: Bagel Place
What excited you about coming to Maryland? We always talked about the program in terms of being a business. If you were going to by stock in a company, now would be the time to buy stock in Maryland because of its transition into the Big Ten, the potential, the resources and the staff that we have. We think that we can build this program into a successful Big Ten program. Maryland has an excellent package: the school itself, the academics, the athletic department, the tradition. If you compare Maryland to all the other Big Ten schools, it’s right up there with every other school. Geographically it’s an incredible place to be between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.
Describe your role as Director of Operations. My role involves everything and anything – we joke that we are going to change my title to ‘Chief of Staff’ just because I manage everything from budgeting, to travel, to team organization, to marketing, to media relations and running camp. When I talked to Steve originally, I was brought here to run the program and make sure we are in a good spot financially and in all the different assets of the program. I’m kind of overseeing a little bit of everything.
How is it working for Coach Aird? We’re talking about someone who is one of my mentors and best friends. He’s someone I really respect and is very talented and intelligent. He’s extremely loyal and he’ll always have your back no matter what. So far it’s been one of the best working experiences I’ve ever had. It’s the reason I agreed to come here because I know I’m going to get direct feedback and be around special people.
What are you most looking forward to about Maryland competing in the Big Ten? I’m just looking forward to competing against the best volleyball programs in the country. I’m looking forward to scouting them out and watching film – seeing what the best kids and the best programs in the country are doing. I’m looking forward to comparing Maryland to the other programs and figuring out what we need to do to become an elite program. And I’m a volleyball guy – I’m really looking forward to the volleyball. It’s going to be tough and competitive, but you can’t compete against anything higher at this level so it will be pretty cool to see what the best teams are doing.
What have you been up to outside of volleyball? I’ve enjoyed being back with some really good friends and there are just so many things to do around the area. I’m just a short metro ride or car ride away from both Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. I’ve been out sightseeing, checking out different restaurants, hanging out with friends and it’s been a great experience getting out and meeting people.