Bonita Vista High School boys’ volleyball team is set with a new coach, Bradley Benton.
Benton is now the new head coach of the sport because he has been coaching since he graduated high school. He also coached at the junior college level at Southwestern College for three years.
“There’s a website known as edjoin.com and it’s for people wanting to join the education sector of employment. I’m always looking at coaching positions on there, sometimes it’s novice level and sometimes it’s [junior varsity]. There was the head coaching opportunity, I saw it, went ahead and applied for it. I love being a part of that game setting again,” Benton said.
Benton played volleyball since he was in eighth grade. With over 15 years of experience playing volleyball, he plans to use his skills to help the team achieve collective and individual goals. By observing each team member’s separate skills, he plans to place them where they are best suited to succeed on the team.
“It’s seeing what [skills the boys] already have, what they can do, and then just trying to push them to do more. To see what I can get out of them, to what level can I take them to,” Benton said.
Benton set the goal of becoming a head volleyball coach after he had graduated high school. His opportunity to achieve that goal finally came when he applied at BVH. According to athletic director Jason Murphy, Benton stood out from all the other applicants because of his attitude.
“Unequivocally, it was his enthusiasm. When he interviewed for the job, he brought an excitement and energy to the table. It just separated him from the other candidates,” Murphy said.
Benton announced the date that the tryouts would be held days before in anticipation that many players would show up. However, the first day caught him by surprise because the courts were seemingly empty. When less than 15 boys showed up; he had hoped for a bigger turnout so that there could be a JV and varsity team. Over half of the players that tried out this year are beginners, there were only five returning boys who tried out again this year.
“I guess it’s different just because it’s a brand new coach and it’s a brand new team. There’s only five returners this season. It’s him having to teach most of the players exactly what to do,” senior varsity boys’ volleyball outside hitter and co-captain Dylan Riley said.
The main focus of the tryouts was teaching the boys the basics of passing. According to Benton, everything revolves around passing, from getting the body set underneath the ball, having a strong foundation and making sure they are pointing at their target. For the newcomers, Benton’s focus was to have them understand spatial awareness on the court.
“Practices before had more drills that were faster paced, scrimmaging type drills. This year, we are slowing it down, learning the transition defense, hitting, blocking, passing, focused on us individually rather than as a whole,” senior varsity boys’ volleyball middle Jack Sanchez said.
“It just seems slower since most of the stuff is review, since it’s mainly for newer players. It’s good because me and some of the other returners can be the ones to set the example by being the first ones to set a drill or show them how to pass or set,” Riley said.
According to Benton, another obstacle during tryouts, with the exception of one of the days that tryouts were held, he was the only coach present. Normally, other coaching staff will assist in practices and drills so that the head coach can observe the entire team more clearly. Benton will be serving as JV and varsity coach until the JV position is replaced. The coach that had led the JV level boys for one practice had not yet been cleared to teach and, because of that, she was fired.
“Originally coach wanted to have practices running at the same time so he could give both teams a full three hours to practice but, since we only have one coach, he wants to focus his attention on one team [at a time],” Riley said.
Benton is able to coach a wide variety of skill sets, with extensive knowledge on the sport, because of his previous position as a setter. Compared to the previous head coach Anthony Harrington, who was a middle hitter, Benton is likely, in the eyes of his players, to go about teaching volleyball in a different way than Harrington did.
“Benton probably wants us to have a much stronger defense and better passing. Coach Anthony was a middle, so he was more insistent on how our hitting is going. Not that either is worse than the other. It’s just that one is probably more experienced and knows more about it,” Riley said.
Although this is Benton’s first year serving as a head coach, his experience and passion are what brought him to the job. With many years involved in volleyball and work to get where he is now, he hopes to be able to grow a bond and also influence his new team and hopefully grow more as a volleyball coach along the way.
“This was definitely a goal of mine. I feel like a chance was taken on me because I’ve never been head coach at a high school level. I was very thankful for that,” Benton said. “A goal is definitely to be a head coach here and move on potentially in the future to maybe junior college level, division three, division two, division one, would be the crème de la crème.”