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.
A Coaching Splash with B1G Goals
Steve Aird noticed something was missing upon walking into Comcast Pavilion for his first official practice as head coach of the Maryland volleyball program this past spring: there was no music.
“I told the players in the first few minutes that I would resign if I didn’t hear something strong coming out of the speakers,” Aird said. “I wanted my players to enjoy coming to the gym and I wanted them to know that their new coach is wired a little bit differently. I like to believe I got their attention.”
Aird’s different wiring has been evident since being hired to lead the Maryland volleyball program into the Big Ten conference in late January. Whether working out in the gym with a pair of Beats headphones or appearing as a guest speaker at numerous events across campus, Aird’s loose and charismatic approach has quickly spread throughout Comcast Center and the local community.
But don’t let his loose style fool you. Aird is on a mission to lead Maryland to new heights and make College Park the destination point for volleyball players nationwide.
I am in love with the grind and the challenge of doing something people say is impossible. I risk big. I believe. And I wont back down.— Steve Aird (@CoachAird) April 22, 2014
Harboring an insatiable drive to succeed, Aird helped lead the Penn State men’s volleyball team to three consecutive NCAA Final Four’s as a player (1997-01) and also capturrf a pair of national titles as both director of operations (2007) and assistant coach (2013) for the Penn State women’s program.
Most importantly, he has learned what it takes to win in the Big Ten – arguably the nation’s toughest conference. Home to six of the last eight national titles, the conference was represented by seven teams in last season’s NCAA Sweet 16 alone.
“I think the reality is the kind of player that you recruit in the Big Ten is the kind of person who wants to continue to player after they are done,” Aird said. “You look at the programs that are having success in the Big Ten and they are recruiting kids who value volleyball and success and winning are a part of who they are.”
Being the conference’s youngest volleyball head coach and Maryland’s first head coaching hire in the Big Ten era for a program that has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2005 may be a daunting task for some, but Aird has readily attacked the challenge with a model built to last.
“I have never been a guy who’s worried about pressure because I work hard and surround myself with good people,” Aird said. “I have thought a lot about what I want this place to look like in years to come and I’m not going to try any quick fixes. The key is to do things the right way, build the foundation and the rest will take care of itself.”
Aird acknowledges the roadmaps drawn by some of Maryland’s most successful coaches as key reference points, including national title winning coaches Sasho Cirovski (men’s soccer), Brenda Frese (women’s basketball), Missy Meharg (field hockey) and Cathy Reese (women’s lacrosse)
“I’ve been incredibly pleased with the feedback from coaches and support staff within the athletic department,” Aird said. “They have been very enthusiastic and optimistic about our program and I think they are excited about the energy that we are bringing to the table.”
Just 10 weeks remain until Maryland begins its 2014 season at Elon on August 28. A demanding task awaits the Terrapins, but you can be sure of one thing from Aird: the music will never stop.