When Jackson’s new volleyball head coach Dave Mirly first met with his new staff, he proceeded to tell them not to talk about any of the players that would be on the team.
Coach Mirly did this because he did not want to have any preconceived notions so every player could have “a clean slate.”
“I didn’t even ask my assistants much about the team — I wanted to learn on my own what they could do and what positions they could play,” Coach Mirly said. “That part has been really fun to learn their personalities, and it’s also been challenging to get it done before the season starts and try to be ready, but it’s been good.”
Another reason why he did not ask about players is so they all get a fresh start if they did not like the situation they were in last year under the former coach.
“If they didn’t see eye-to-eye with their coach from the previous year, or they felt wronged or whatever, they know that they got a fresh start,” Coach Mirly said. “I’m letting them earn their spots, which is big for anybody to get a fresh start over because you don’t get one often in anything you do.”
Coach Mirly even assured his new players he did not research them before they first met.
What Coach Mirly focused on instilling into his players first was a hard work ethic, and he feels he has been successful at getting them to buy-in.
From a player’s perspective, Coach Mirly said it’s different when a team gets a new head coach because they are going to try and change the philosophy of the program.
“Getting the girls to buy-in to what I’m teaching, what I’m selling, is always a challenge,” Coach Mirly said. “You never know who’s going to buy-in to it real quick or who’s going to take a while or never buys-in.”
Coach Mirly is coming off a 10-year stint with the Perryville volleyball team where he held an overall record of 243 wins, 99 losses and 21 ties.
Perryville won four conference championships, three district championships and placed fourth in Class 3 in 2012 with Coach Mirly at the helm.
The Pirates were also above .500 in all but one of Coach Mirly’s 10 seasons, which was in his first year as head coach when they went 15-18-2 in 2007.
Coach Mirly credits the success he had with the program because of the high expectations he sets.
“I promise [my players] that we’re going to win championships whether it be conference or district — I just don’t know how long it’s going to take,” Coach Mirly said. “I told them it may take a while, but the quicker you buy-in to [the philosophy], the quicker you start working hard, the quicker you start believing it’s not about you but it’s about the team, the sooner we can start winning those championships.”
Perryville won its first conference and district title in Coach Mirly’s fifth season at the helm and reached the final four in Class 3 the year after.
Coach Mirly said having already been through the process of growing the Perryville program, he hopes the experience will help speed up the process at Jackson.
At Perryville, Coach Mirly started a weight-lifting program, which he said was “extremely successful.” He hired an outside party to train his players, and Coach Mirly did so because he said he knew his own limitations.
Coach Mirly is going about the weight lifting program the same way at Jackson, and he hired none other than Jackson football head coach Brent Eckley.
“I started asking around who could work the girls out in the weight room and really maximize their potential,” Coach Mirly said. “Several people said Coach Eckley could. I talked to him, and I hired him to work the girls out. He did a fabulous job of pushing them really hard and getting as much out of them as they could.”
Coach Mirly even said the volleyball team was in the weight room three more times [24 total] than the football team was this summer.
“I didn’t realize it was that many, but the bottom line is almost every day the girls were there,” Coach Mirly said. “They were working out, they were getting stronger. They are sweating and working hard next to each other, pushing each other.
“They see each other going through their struggles and raising their maxes. That part was great — it’s been a very successful program.”
In the last three seasons, Jackson’s volleyball team has won 20 or more games under former head coach Tracy Robinson.
Robinson stepped down from the position due to health reasons, and even though Coach Mirly was comfortable at Perryville, his decision ultimately came down to his family.
“My wife and kids rarely come up to Perryville to watch me coach and watch my kids play because they are so involved in their sports, so that aspect of it was great,” Coach Mirly said.
Coach Mirly said he talked to Jackson athletic director two separate times for several hours before making a decision.
“In 10 years at Perryville, I never applied for any other jobs,” Coach Mirly said. “Some schools did contact me, but I loved it there. I never had any intentions of leaving even when I heard this job was open. I still never really thought about it too much because I was comfortable where I was.”
The funnest part of being at Perryville for Coach Mirly was being able to build the program. The challenge of building the Jackson program factored in to his decision as well because it is something he is looking forward to doing.
Jackson will begin its season against St. Vincent at home on Aug. 22.