There is no doubt that the CSUSB women’s volleyball team has put the school on the map at a national level for years to come. The women’s team holds 14 CCAA championships, 8 West Regional championships, and just finished their best season in school history, going 33-0 and winning the national championship.
How does a team follow such a perfect record when their entire Spring season, and possibly preseason, is cancelled due to COVID-19? Danny Scott has been a key factor on the program’s success for the past 16 seasons. The 2019 National Assistant Head Coach of the Year gives us his insights on where to go from this point and how to continue to hold that national champion mentality.
Q: Coming off of such a great season, what were some of the goals you guys had in mind for Spring 2020?
A: Some of our objectives were to continue developing the rest of the team and get great competition to prepare us for next year. We were really looking forward to facing high level of play such as ASU, USC and CSULB.
Q: How do you keep a team that just came off the best season in school history motivated? (Pre virus)
A: I think we can appreciate what we did. As girls get older, they realize it’s their last chance and want to do it again. Others take this as an opportunity to get a bigger role as seniors leave. Everyone has a different level of what motivates them, but in terms of our team, I don’t see motivation as a problem considering we all saw how great it was. Let’s do it again!
Q: With all the years of coaching behind you and now winning the national championship and being named the national assistant coach of the year, how do you stay motivated for your players?
A: Every year is a new journey, that’s what makes my profession so wonderful. It’s never the same thing, you deal with different people and because we are so connected there are always different variables such as new players and new opponents. Obviously you have projections of what you think will happen, but the unknown is what motivates you and what makes it really enjoyable as you become more successful.
Q: Before COVID-19 got more serious, what was your initial thought on how it could possibly affect your team if you had any?
A: I certainly didn’t foresee it being at the level of where it is now; where everything is nearly shut down. It’s not something that’s just a local or a state issue. This is a problem around the world which is something I would never even think of. I had an idea of things getting suspended for a little bit, but I didn’t expect to be completely shut out of the spring, at least not initially.
Q: What was your game plan when the stay at home order was placed and all classes were moved online, giving you and the rest of the coaching staff no contact with your players?
A: There was no plan in terms of long term. It was more about adaptation. Just like everyone with the academics, everyone had to adapt to the environment that we are now placed in. Obviously there’s not much we can do but to make sure we are staying on track with our academics, there has been contact with our athletic trainer and trying to monitor the team’s fitness level. We’ve made plans that have been taken away and we are still waiting on answers as to what we can plan for when fall comes around.
Q: How do you keep your team accountable for staying on track and in shape during this time?
A: It’s tough, because we are really not allowed to. We can offer opportunities, we can send out information, but we are not allowed to force you to report back. Hopefully we installed a culture enough that everyone feels that it is an important piece of the puzzle and the future.
Q: Since the Spring season got canceled, will your training strategy and format change to make up for the lost time?
A: It will certainly change somewhat, I don’t think there is anything that will make up for lost time in the spring. I think there is a possibility that maybe the transfer kids might have had some further progress, if spring wasn’t canceled, versus the incoming freshman. I have no doubt in my mind that we will be re-educating everyone.
Q: Do you think there will be new cleaning precautions with all the shared Gatorade bottles and volleyballs?
A: Absolutely, there will be tons of changes in that regard. Everyone will have their own bottle. I think everyone will be way more cautious of keeping their hands clean, touching the chairs and sitting down. Perfect example, we are a sport that changes sides in between sets. It wouldn’t surprise me if everyone is wiping down the benches with disinfectant in between.
Q :How do you feel about the possibility of the fall season being shortened? Do you see less games/less traveling during this season?
A: I do think it’s a possibility. I know they are discussing that. I don’t like it, but I understand and, if that’s how it has to be, then I’m all for it as long as we get to play. I know everyone wants to get back out there.
Q: How do you keep the team moral and passionate with the possibility of no spectators now coming to the game?
A: That is a bridge we will cross should it come up, we don’t know if that’s going to happen. If it does, people play cause they want to play, I don’t think it will impact their motivation to play or win. I think as athletes we get involved with the sport not for the show. We like it. It’s there, but it’s not the biggest factor. It would be a bummer. It’s such a great environment in sports and people enjoy watching and that’s why it’s such a big part of our culture.
Q: How do you feel about the possibility of all sporting events being banned until 2021?
A: That would suck. I think sports are such a huge part of American culture. So many people enjoy watching it, it generates a ton of revenue, commercially, and just giving people a reason to go out. I hope that’s not the case, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that gets put into place. I think as testing gets better and better it will start with professional sports where they will play with no crowds or in a non attended venue. I think the country will really need it and would want to be able to at least watch it live.
Q: If the coming season is canceled because of COVID-19 where does that leave your senior class or the incoming freshman class of 2021?
A: I think what would end up happening is that they would get an extra year of eligibility back, at least that’s what happened this season to the spring sports, so it wouldn’t surprise me if that continues if it has been set by the NCAA. I think we are fortunate enough that we play in the fall. If girls are given another year of eligibility, it’s a little easier to stay for an additional semester as opposed to being in the spring where they may just want to be done, but people won’t lose their year of eligibility. As for the incoming freshman of 2021, if it comes down the road, every individual athletic department will have to look at the maximum scholarship dollars they can spend and what’s allowable. That would be a question that also involves if the seniors will stick around and play and are there any other allowances from the NCAA to give more scholarship money given the circumstances.
Scott also made a last comment for this Q&A. He said, “We are fortunate enough to have this crisis happen when it did, rather than three months before nationals. It makes us even more appreciative of what we accomplished considering how close we would’ve been to not having that opportunity, like what the winter sports had to deal with.”