The coaching resume of Stanford University’s Women’s Volleyball coach, Kevin Hambly, spans the course of eleven years and is full of honors and winning seasons. From 2009 to 2016, the first eight years of his head coaching career, Hambly was the head coach at the University of Illinois. There, he guided the Fighting Illini to six NCAA tournament appearances. In 2011, the Volleyball Magazine named him national coach of the year after guiding the team to the programs first NCAA tournament semifinals and finals matches. In 2017, he was named head coach at Stanford and has made his mark on the program. Going into his third year at Stanford, Hambly has given the program two conference championships and in 2018, a national championship title. He was also named Pac-12 coach of the year. During the championship season, his team went undefeated in all conference matches (20-0) and finished the season with a 34-1 record. His team also set a new school record of a 32-match win streak.
As a championship-caliber coach, Coach Hambly knows what it takes for young athletes to make it to the college level and be successful. LRT Sports sat down with Coach Hambly and asked him about what it takes to reach the collegiate level and how to succeed once you get there. We feel that this coach gave upfront and honest answers that will help athletes.
LRT Sports: When scouting recruits, what are some key attributes you are looking for?
Coach Hambly: Talent, is easy to spot – either you have it, or you don’t. It, of course, is also very dependent on the level you are able to play. So removing talent – the attributes that I am looking for personally are simple. Does this athlete work hard, in games and matches? Are they a good teammate? Do I want to coach them? Would I want to play with them? Do they compete?
LRT Sports: When should an athlete start reaching out to you, and how would you like them to reach out to you? Email, a phone call, or social media?
Coach Hambly: We can’t speak to an athlete until they are Juniors, so making us aware that they are interested in their sophomore year is great. Just an email is fine! I don’t do social media!
LRT Sports: What can a potential athlete do that would make you stop recruiting them?
Coach Hambly: Be lazy, be a bad teammate, treat their parents terrible.
LRT Sports: What can a potential athlete do on an official visit that would impress you?
Coach Hambly: Be yourself, don’t try and be anything but yourself. Either you fit, or you don’t. Visits should be about setting expectations in both directions. If it is someone trying to sell someone on something they are not – it won’t work out in the end.
LRT Sports: What makes a great team player?
Coach Hambly: Someone who gives to others thinks of someone other than themselves no matter how they are playing!
LRT Sports: Do you recommend that high school volleyball athletes play high school volleyball and club volleyball?
Coach Hambly: YES – play with your classmates. Represent your school! It’s the best!
LRT Sports: What two camps can high school volleyball athletes attend that can get them noticed by you?
Coach Hambly: None – we don’t care about camps, if they want to come to our overnight camp that’s a good way to see the campus and hang around our athletes and coaches but we don’t ask athletes to come to camp just to be recruited.
LRT Sports: What advice can you give to the frustrated athletes who think they should be getting more playing time?
Coach Hambly: Don’t blame anyone else. It is too easy to look for excuses – it won’t serve you in this instance or in life! I have never been around a coach who doesn’t play their best players. If you think it is political, you are most likely wrong. Get better, be a great teammate! Work hard to be a player that the coach has to play!
LRT Sports: What is your go-to advice that you give your team before every game?
Coach Hambly: I don’t have any! But, if I had to say something every time, it would trust the work you have put in, trust each other, and compete together!
LRT Sports: What mindset did your team have that drove them to have an undefeated conference record and championship-winning season?
Coach Hambly: I don’t think our mindset was all that unique. It was basically just approaching each match with the mindset that we are going to get better. We were committed to playing our best on that given night. We certainly did not ever talk about going undefeated or even winning a match or a championship. The conversations were only about getting better and continuing to grow!
LRT Sports: What three words come to mind when your team won the NCAA Championship?
Coach Hambly: Love my Team!
LRT Sports: What is the craziest thing that you have seen a parent do during a game?
Coach Hambly: Punch another parent for not changing sides – deal breaker!
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