Women’s volleyball: Head coach Tim Doyle talks first season as head coach

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Head coach Tim Doyle talks with a referee at a recent Tribe volleyball match. COURTESY PHOTO / TRIBE ATHLETICS.

When Tim Doyle was pursuing an undergraduate degree in sports industry from Ohio State, he wasn’t sure which direction he wanted to go in. All he knew was that he wanted to be in college athletics because of his love for the atmosphere. That decision, just eight years ago, was the driving force behind Doyle landing the job as William and Mary’s ninth volleyball head coach.

“I emailed every single high school coach in greater Columbus and one got back to me,” Doyle said. “His name was Chris Manganello, and he offered me a spot as a high school coach working for him. So I started with Chris, actually just love it. Just was hooked from day one. I had a kid named Evan Bell leave the very first coach’s meeting we had, and he called me coach, and I was like ‘Dude, this is it. I don’t know what it is about it, but this is it for me.’ And then I’ve just been working at it since.”

Serving as an assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth for four years, Doyle got to play a hand in the team’s transformation from a middle-of-the-pack squad to the team that produced the longest win streak in the nation with 27 consecutive victories in 2017. He was also selected to the 2017 American Volleyball Coaches Association Thirty Under 30 list.

“I think my contribution was being able to get in tight with the girls and understand them, develop those relationships that built the trust that allowed me then to coach them and impact them and make decisions and train them in a way that was conducive to however they wanted to learn,” Doyle said.

Doyle admitted that the jump from being an assistant coach to a head coach was a big one, but he gives a lot of credit to his assistant coaches, Colby Arrington and Janelle Sykes.

“… As an assistant I felt like I had a memory like a steel trap, man, nothing got past me and I was on top of my responsibilities like white on rice, you know, like I had things down,” Doyle said. “And here, you know, as a head coach, you’re just managing so many more aspects. … That’s the benefit of having the awesome assistant coaches that we do now. Colby and Janelle, they are on top of their game, and without them I’d be lost because I just can’t remember all the details.”

The team has a lot of goals for this season, number one being to get back to the Colonial Athletic Association tournament. Doyle highlights the necessity of getting back to setting the precedent of winning championships for future years.

“That has to be goal number one for everybody, and I think our girls are more ambitious than that, but that’s just baseline; that’s a minimum,” Doyle said. “I think, macro-view, we need to get back to championships in general. The teams under Deb Hill, I mean, won championship after championship consecutively. And we have to get back to that pedigree and that status that we’re known for.”

Despite the vast differences between the Rams and the Tribe, Doyle is ready to transfer what he learned at VCU to the College. To this coach, the most important thing he can do is everything.

“… You really have to go the extra mile to make sure that your girls are taken care of,” Doyle said. “You know, this is a unique experience, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you’ve got to treat them the right way, and you have to be there. My job, what keeps me up at night, is thinking that I’m not doing enough for the girls. And it haunts me; no matter how many 14-hour days I work, it haunts me. I think about volleyball every night before I go to bed, every single night. I want you to think about that, because I’m haunted by the fact that if I’m not doing something to prepare the girls, then I’m letting them down.”

In order to get to the championship level, Doyle stresses a process-oriented mentality. By doing so, he hopes to move towards a few main goals.

“And really, for us, it’s about three things,” Doyle said. “Being an unbelievable teammate and being selfless and sacrificing … working hard is the second thing; being great and being exceptional, it’s not a trick, it’s not an easy thing to do. It just takes work. … lastly is attitude. That’s just something that’s always within your control, you know. How coachable are you, do you have positive body language, are you a good person who does the right thing; that stems from your attitude. … having the confluence of those, I think, is the precedent we’re trying to set every single day.”

As far as who his team is, Doyle highlights the players’ drive and refusal to give up. He extends his admiration for this caliber of person to all the students and faculty here at the College.

“… For William and Mary, we want people who want to be the best,” Doyle said. “And that’s academic, that’s athletic. This is the place where it’s the best of both worlds, in my opinion. People who come here are like perfectionists. They want to be the best and they don’t settle … and that type of personality is so trainable and so ambitious, and if you want to be that type of person, this is the place for you. And I think that’s a very unique atmosphere to be a part of. That’s how I operate, like I check my emails probably five times before I hit send and it’s ridiculous. … That’s just the character [of person] that comes here.”

While it is still early in the season, Doyle likes what he is seeing from the team. He stresses the girls’ willingness to give for their teammates and step up into leadership roles.

“The biggest highlight is the way the team plays,” Doyle said. “I mean they’re the type that the ball’s like 50 feet away from the net, and their skinning their knee trying to go after it. There’s nothing that dies on this team, and you can’t fake that.”

When he’s not coaching, Doyle likes to read and work out to give his brain a break from thinking about volleyball. His favorite type of books to read are on leadership, his favorite being “Lead … for God’s Sake” by Todd Gongwer and Urban Meyer. But if you asked his wife, Olivia, she has her own thoughts on what her husband likes to do with his time.

“And if you asked Olivia what I like to do, she’d say work, think about work, go to volleyball or think about volleyball,” Doyle said. “Honestly, that’s what she would say.”

At the end of the day, Doyle’s ambition as head coach is to provide his team with an incomparable experience on and off the court, and he commits himself to that goal wholeheartedly.

“Every little interaction, it’s so worthwhile and it’s so gratifying to have those relationships,” Doyle said. “And their confidence too, right, it’s not even just their volleyball skills … it’s becoming confident young women who have their shoulders back and heads up … to see that, that’s special.”