The idea of a dream coach seems like a fairy tale to most Division I athletes, but dreams do come true on the LSU beach volleyball courts.
Head Coach Russell Brock coaches the LSU women’s beach volleyball team. Brock has coached both indoor volleyball and beach volleyball in his career. He has a wife and three kids. He was a four-year letterman athlete for the USC Trojans and played on the men’s volleyball team.
“At the time that was really the only opportunity to play for guys,” Brock said. “Specifically to play volleyball would be indoor volleyball at the college level.”
Beach volleyball is not a common sport across the U.S. Beach volleyball is often compared to and confused with indoor volleyball. In indoor volleyball, the player’s roles are specialized, and six players are on the court at once. Beach volleyball consists of only two players and they typically play barefoot on the sand.
Beach volleyball is complicated because everyone has to pass, serve, set and defend. Indoor volleyball is a game of power, while beach volleyball is a creative offensive game. In indoor volleyball there are substitutions, but beach players are not afforded this luxury.
“You can help your team out by making substitutions,” Brock said. “In beach, you can’t sub and you have to play the entire match, and if you end up needing a sub, then you have to forfeit.”
Brock was raised in a Christian household his entire life. Faith was an integral part of both his mom and dad’s families. He started his faith journey in elementary school, and when he arrived at college, he decided to continue his journey and grow more as a Christian. He knew his faith would continue to be an integral part of who he was as a man.
“Early elementary is when I made my decision to follow Christ,” Brock said.
When he graduated from college and decided to get married, he wanted his marriage to be centered around the Christian faith. Brock and his wife prioritized raising their children in the Christian faith.
“That was probably the time when I really started investing in that relationship,” Brock said. “It became significantly more personal as far as my learning and my growth.”
As Brock played his sport, faith was always blended into his college volleyball experience. He started his first coaching job in a Christian environment. His coaching style would incorporate stress management, honor and respect, centered around faith.
“We were able to very clearly and openly tie that into Biblical principles,” Brock said.
His coaching style from the beginning has always incorporated faith and sport. When Brock became the coach at LSU, he wanted to continue to incorporate faith into his coaching. He understood he would need to respect that this is a public state university and honor the rules, but still wanted to incorporate that extra special aspect to the team.
Brock’s goal is to help develop all of his athletes. He wants his players to excel in both athletics and academics, but he also wants them to grow in their personal faith.
“To help people develop their faithful walk as they were also developing academically and athletically,” Brock said.
Brock’s coaching style is mellow and calm. When he recruits players, he sees if their current coach’s style is similar to his. He needs to make sure that yelling is not the athlete’s motivator. He wants his athletes to understand their responsibilities without him having to become upset.
“It drains energy and is a distraction honestly,” Brock said. “I expect a high level of accountability and personal accountability within the team.”
Communications Graduate Assistant Grant Kauvar works with the LSU beach volleyball team. Kauvar works with Brock to set up interviews with the players for the media, and he writes for the news section reporting on the beach volleyball team at lsusports.net.
“I have a great relationship with him,” Kauvar said. “I can call him whenever. He can call me whenever. We bounce ideas off of each other.”
Kauvar praises his name with integrity. He brings up the continued point of Brock being an amazing and unique coach. He says Brock is aware of his team and is constantly trying to help the team become better. Brock has a consistent vision and is a great role model to everyone.
“He is sort of like a father figure I think to a lot of people on the team,” Kauvar said. “I would say even myself included to a certain extent. Something really special about him is how he empowers everybody below him.”
The main reason LSU appealed to Brock is he knew he was going to have the physicalities here and have top-level athletes. Brock had to climb the ladder as most coaches do. Once he started coaching at the college level, he was thankful that he didn’t have to move around many places like other coaches might have to.
“Make one move and not even really that far from home and be in that destination type of position,'' Brock said. “It was something we really had to consider.”
Brock believes his athletes should do well in all their responsibilities. Brock said athletes can’t focus on some of their responsibilities well and then not focus on their other responsibilities because those that are neglected will invade and sacrifice the areas they want to be great in.
“The only way to really be great is if you decide I am going to be great in every facet of my life,” Brock said.
Brock is not just a dream coach, he also has a passion for golfing in his free time. In addition, he takes care of his dogs and likes to plant flowers. His favorite part is to watch his flowers blossom.
“I love working in the yard,” Brock said. “I have a passion for flowers and plants."
Brock is more than a coach and many of his athletes have said how he is a dream coach. He is always nice and is always trying to care for others.
“Being a selfless leader where you’re looking out for other people even more than you're looking out for yourself,” Brock said.