Many times we see athletes play and never think about what really goes on behind the scenes.
As an athlete, especially at the Division I level, there is more to prepping than just physically working out and practicing. Mental health is a huge component in how the athlete will perform on the courts. Nutritional health is also essential to not only achieving optimal performance, but also tip-top motivation. Getting the proper diet is crucial for an athlete at this level.
Dealing with mental health has been a lot different this season for the beach volleyball girls. This season they have prioritized mental health.
Head Coach Russell Brock has meetings weekly with the strength and conditioning coaches, the athletic trainer and with the dietitian. The dietitian works closely with the girls as well, but it really is individual with the student-athletes.
“That is one of the pieces of the puzzle as an elite athlete that you have to pay attention to,” Brock said. “They learn more about their own bodies, diet, and nutrition through the guidance of the health professionals.”
Their diet helps them to maximize their ability to play the game. Each athlete has different requirements, and it allows them to have a personal engagement with the nutritionist and with the medical staff. It is a continual conversation so that the student-athletes can be at their best.
The staff encourages them to always take advantage of all the resources that they have on campus. The girls are surrounded by staff who aspire to help them be the best they can be.
The team word for the year is togetherness. This word inspires a family vibe which stems from coaching. They have outdoor picnics at the parade grounds and will all have dinner together while social distancing. The girls always want to bond with one another outside of practice, reinforcing the team and family aspect of the program.
As a team, they all do daily self check-ins with one another to make sure everyone is feeling cared for and valued by everyone. The coaches and athletic trainers also check in with the girls to reinforce the family atmosphere.
Claire Coppola explained how she stayed dedicated during the dreadful pause of beach volleyball once COVID-19 happened.
“Being around my family helped me stay mentally dedicated to volleyball,” Coppola said. “I would do body weight exercises.”
The team participated in a competition through their strength coach where they would send pictures of themselves completing a rehab exercise, eating healthy food and working out. This helped the team bond socially and stay motivated.
The team aspect is what is unique to the game of beach volleyball. It takes everyone on the team to give 100% to be a successful program. This dedication keeps the girls motivated even during difficult times like these.