Amanda Alayon Joins Us As The New Volleyball Head Coach
Chelsea Piers is proud to announce the addition of Amanda Alayon as the Volleyball Head Coach. We took some time to sit down with Amanda to talk about her plans with the volleyball program and what her vision and philosophy on coaching is going to help our players.
Q: How is your experience as a player and as a coach going to help elevate the volleyball program?
Having once been a high school athlete in this area, including being a 6 year athlete in GEVA and having coached in GEVA for 11 years, I can relate to and understand the girls more. I have realistic standards and expectations, and I feel that because of this, I can connect more with parents and players as I was once in their shoes.
Q: How do you think your experience as a D1 player is going to help your athletes play at a high level?
I have a pretty good understanding for the bigger picture of the game because of my collegiate playing experience. Between a combination of that and coaching at the division 3 level for the last 9 seasons, I have seen every level of play that the girls can strive to be at. I feel confident that I can give the girls a realistic expectation of what levels of play they can reach and how to get there.
Q: What was it like to have one of your players on Sports Center Top 10?
It was a pretty cool experience! At first I had no idea, and then out of nowhere my phone started flooding with calls, text and social media notifications. It was a great exposure for our program and we were really grateful to receive such positive public recognition. It’s also served as motivation for teams after; the amount of hustle and heart in the play was something that can inspire everyone.
Q: What are your coaching techniques that are going to help your athletes improve at a rapid rate?
One of my biggest coaching philosophies is the game teaches the game. All of my practices are based off of realistic and game-like situations. Everything we do at practice is applicable and easily translatable to what they will experience in a game setting. I’m a very big advocate of running high energy, competitive games, rather than slow, unrealistic drills. It’s important to me that my athletes are always engaged in what we are doing and getting 1% better every day.
Q: Explain your recruiting process that you want to establish for athletes that want to be a collegiate athlete.
I will be sitting down with each girl who is interested in playing in college and go over which colleges would be good fits for them based on the following criteria: major, distance from home, school size, school area and division of sport. Once we have narrowed down the list, we will then focus on a few elements in initiating contact with coaches: their introductory email which will include their accolades and stats, their recruiting video, and inviting them to our tournaments. New this coming year, we will be using Hudl to keep film from our tournaments to send out to prospective coaches and schools. This will help immensely, as 90% of colleges are using Hudl for recruiting purposes.
Q: What words of advice do you have for athletes that are just starting out in volleyball?
Be patient. Volleyball is a sport that is based off of errors. You get a point, every time someone makes a mistake, unlike other sports where you are rewarded from putting a ball in a hoop or goal. Players need to be okay with making mistakes, and instead of being upset about the mistake, take the feedback about what they did wrong and apply it as fast as possible. Also, volleyball is a very technical driven sport, in which athletes are starting much later than other sports. In no other sport are we passing, setting, attacking, etc., so it takes time to perfect your technique. In other sports, you can start as early as 5 years old. We have to remember to be patient and as long as we continue to take feedback and hold ourselves accountable, we will get better with time.
Q: What are the most important traits for a player who is looking to be successful at volleyball to possess? How as a coach do you help them succeed?
The most important traits would be to be self-motivated, hardworking, and coachable. Coaches love nothing more than a kid who wants to get better, and is willing to do whatever it takes to get there. I remind my players every day that you should be the hardest working person on the court every time you play, no matter what the score is, no matter if it’s a practice or a game; no one works harder than you. As a coach, I give a lot of feedback. I am always giving my athletes constructive criticism; what you are doing wrong and HOW to fix it. It’s so important to me to have purpose when I’m speaking, so that players have purpose when they are playing.
Q: What is the biggest lesson you learned as a player and as a coach?
The biggest lesson I learned from the sport was about patience. I was always a person who desired so badly to be the best, whether I was playing or coaching. Throughout the years I have learned to trust in the process and not seek validation in instant gratification. Nothing comes overnight, and as long as I trust in the process in my training as a player and the training I am giving to my athletes as a coach, then everything will work out fine.
Q: Tell us about the different leagues Chelsea Piers Volleyball participates in (GEVA/ NERVA).
For club, this will be our second year competing in GEVA, rather than in the past we competed in NERVA. The GEVA region, for one, is far more competitive than NERVA. Our teams are being challenged more and getting better just by playing better competition. As well, GEVA tournaments are much closer, making travel for our families much more convenient. GEVA competes within New York and New Jersey, while NERVA competes within northern parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine.