Brent Mutis, Sports Information & Compliance Officer
Rob Gowe joined the Blues in June of this year to head up the women's volleyball program. Since then, he's inherited a roster largely recruited by the previous regime but he's optimistic the talent of this group will take them a long way.
Formerly an assistant coach at Simon Fraser University, he's had to take on more responsibility in the top job running a university program. As he's gotten to know his team, he's developed a good understanding of its strengths and likes what he has seen in the early going.
Cap U sports information director Brent Mutis caught up with Rob this week for some Q & A about the season ahead:
BM: How would you describe your first few months on the job?
RG: There's been a lot to do. I think just always being an assistant coach, you just do what the boss tells you and I didn't have to do too much but now there's a lot of organizing and figuring out the details (such as) ordering gear, talking to kids (who were recruited prior) and making sure they're coming, getting organized for the season, getting practice times going. So it's been a lot but I think there's been good support from the athletic department and they're easy to work with so far so it's been a good experience.
BM: What is your coaching philosophy?
RG: We need to work hard and build from there. We need to be creative on offence and not worry too much about making errors but being aggressive. I find in women's volleyball, if you can play good defence, that makes life a lot easier and then be creative on offence and really be aggressive. I think that's the key. I can't remember which NHL coach said, 'Safe is death', but I like that philosophy so I try to encourage that with the girls. That (message) is coming for them but they have to learn to trust me that I'm not going to overreact when they make mistakes.
BM: Meghan Koven is your captain and a five-year veteran. What does she mean to the team?
RG: She's been great. I've known Meghan since she was 16 so she offered to help right away with all details. She's been great with organizing the girls; she already had a Facebook group with the girls so she's been communicating with them. The girls were used to communicating (with Meghan) so some of them weren't even responding to my emails at first (laughs). She's willing to do everything, she works hard, she's great for team spirit, she's really awesome for that and then she just works her butt off so what else can you ask for in a captain?
BM: Has anything caught you by surprise so far as you settle into the job?
RG: Not really, it's been a work in progress just as far as we have a lot of girls so that's been a challenge. Everyone had committed to coming here before I got the job so I wanted to allow that and see what happens. It's been a bit of a challenge but I think the nice surprise is that everyone's been willing to buy in and there's been no grumbling about how many people are in the gym and some of them won't get as much on-court time once we get to game play but they're working hard knowing that there's always a chance to get on the roster and be part of (dressing for games).
BM: Were you able to get any recruiting done and what players are you anticipating fans will enjoy watching?
RG: I really only brought in one girl, Aimee (Tilley), who's learning how to play middle. She's very athletic so I'm looking forward to seeing how she can progress this first year. Maya Griffith is someone that was recruited by the previous (coaching) group and she's a very good player, I coached her at Team BC. She's very dynamic, big arm, very aggressive. She's unfortunately rolled her ankle so we'll have to wait to see her debut but she's going to be a key to our team when she's healthy. Eva (Nagata) who's from the Faroe Islands, it's great that she's here. She's got lots of experience and is fitting right in and just coming from a different background – for her, it's been more of a professional volleyball experience – so she's used to playing with a lot older players and players holding each other accountable. It's a little bit different for her to adapt to the Canadian (way) where everyone's nice and a little bit afraid (to speak up)... We have Brooke Lightburn who's transferred from College of the Rockies who is an excellent libero and she'll push Vanesa (Gatto) as well but also she's a good team leader, has lots of experience in the league… so I'm looking forward to seeing her and how she can add to the group.
BM: What needs to happen this season for you to consider it a success?
RG: To me, we have to make the playoffs. I think we're quite capable and I think we're capable at the end of the year to be ready to challenge a lot of the teams and really push for a successful Provincials. But I think if everyone buys in and keeps working hard, learns to stick together regardless of the situation and then starts to trust me, then they can believe what I say and that I'm not just talking out the side of my mouth to placate them in the moment. I think it will be a success too if a majority of the girls want to come back and help us continue to grow here at Cap.
The regular season for Blues women's volleyball starts Friday, Oct. 11 when they host Douglas College in a 6 p.m. start at the Centre for Sport and Wellness.