Q&A With New UW Head Volleyball Coach Jim McLaughlin

Aug. 17, 2001

SEATTLE - On August 1, 2001, Jim McLaughlin became the seventh head coach in Washington volleyball history, following the retirement of Bill Neville, who coached the Huskies for the past decade (1991-2000).

McLaughlin, fresh off a highly successful four-year tenure at Kansas State, brings 11 years of head coaching experience with him to the Seattle campus.

In his first few days at Washington, McLaughlin took time to reflect on his overall coaching philosophy, as well as his first impressions of the Huskies and the new rules of the game.

Q: What is your coaching philosophy?
A: My philosophy consists of seven different tenets: improvement, proper environment, relationships, organization, training methods, team character and faith in myself.

Of the seven, one of the most important is improvement. My goal is to have all of my players improve on a daily basis. When you are improving, you feel good about yourself. At some point, you feel so good that you don't look sideways - you don't compare yourself to other players or programs. You do the things you do well and you look forward to competition. Improvement is critical.

Q: What do you look for in a potential recruit?
A: First you look for ability. You have to have some athletic ability and you have to have gifts, and then it's a matter of what you do with those gifts that is important.

I also look for competitive greatness. Kids that want to become as good as they are capable of becoming and want to climb this mountain and get to the top of it. The third thing I look at is character. You're going to win more matches and improve more with good people.

Q: What is your stance on scheduling?
A: We're going to develop a preseason schedule that will help prepare us and meet the standards of Pac-10 play. I like to schedule teams who attack well from the left side, teams that run a fast offense and teams who are strong defensively. Then we can start putting all the little things together, but first we need significant tests along the way to measure where we're at and where we can go.

The second phase of our season is Pac-10 play. If we take care of business in the Pac-10, improve, do a good job and have a winning record, we are going to prepare ourselves for making a run in the NCAA tournament.

Q: What is the difference between volleyball in the Pac-10 and in the Big 12 Conference?
A: I look at it two different ways. If you look at the top 10 teams in the country, there are more teams from the Pac-10 represented. Then you look top to bottom - the Pac-10 is the strongest conference in the country. Every night you have to be well prepared or you are going to have problems.

Looking at the standards of the game, I've measured and studied the Big 12, and I'm in the process of studying the Pac-10, but it looks like the Pac-10 has a little higher standard offensively and defensively.

Q: What are some of your goals for the volleyball program at UW?
A: My three goals are to graduate every player, win the Pac-10 (if we do that we are in striking distance of winning the national title) and develop players for the USA national team.

I believe that we can have a top 10 team at the University of Washington. We have the resources, the facilities and the academic reputation. We just have to put the things in place that need to be in place to develop a volleyball team.

Q: What are your thoughts on the various rule and scoring format changes in the game this season?
A: I think something was needed, but I don't think that necessarily shortening the game - which basically is what the new scoring system does - is the solution.

The 30-point rally game, is about an eight-point game, if you score it like we're used to. Whenever you shorten the game, it allows for some more upsets. Whereas, if you lengthen the game, you allow the stronger opponent to have more time to beat the weaker opponent.

What I do like about the new system is that we are emulating the FIVB (international volleyball governing body) rules. Part of my philosophy is that we're going to teach our players to do great things at Washington, but we also want them to take some tools along to do some great things after Washington, which includes playing at the international level.

As far as the standards of the game (hitting efficiency, your ability to score points and your sideout game), it's not going to change those standards - I guarantee it. Is it going to change everything in our training? No way. We're going to be training the same way, but we're just going to play shorter games.

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