Zachary Shaver takes the reins of LCCC volleyball | Sports


June 29 – CHEYENNE – Zachary Shaver was waiting for Laramie County Community College to post their volleyball coaching position after Keri Coats announced she was leaving to teach last December.

Shaver wasn’t sure he wanted to leave Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona, but had heard enough good things about the LCCC to think the job was worth checking out.

The LCCC delayed hiring Coats’ permanent replacement until they had a full-time athletic director in place. The school opened the position after hiring Mark Puev as AD in early April. By then, Shaver had gotten enough information about the school from people he trusted that he knew he wanted to apply.

Shaver was named coach of the Golden Eagles on Monday afternoon.

“(Region IX) is strong in volleyball, LCCC was a stronger contender just a few years ago and the resources are there to be successful, they just need someone to steer them in that direction again “, Shaver said. “On top of that, Cheyenne itself was an attractive place for us as a family. These are all important reasons I applied for the job.”

Shaver spent nine seasons at Yavapai, coaching the Roughriders to a 154-93 record and two trips to the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament.

“The committee really liked what he did at Yavapai with his longevity there and building the program,” Puev said Tuesday morning. “They’ve improved a lot over his time there and become really consistent. We spoke to a lot of people about him during the hiring process, and they said he expects a lot from people, but “He also cares a lot about his players. That really resonated with me.

“He also brought teams to the NJCAA tournament, which (former LCCC coach Austin Albers) did while he was here. I would really love to see our volleyball team excel like that again.”

Albers spent five seasons at the LCCC, coaching the Eagles to 145 NJCAA tournament wins and berths in 2017 and 2018, before moving to NCAA Division II Colorado State-Pueblo. Albers was one of the people Shaver told about the work of the LCCC.

“He thought LCCC would be a really good fit for me,” Shaver said. “I’m further along in my career than him, and I’ve coached at Division I and Division II levels before. He thought it might be a place I wanted to settle down and finish my career rather than being a younger coach looking to move up the ladder.

“I think junior college coaching really suits me.”

In particular, Shaver said two-year schools suited him because he loved recruiting. Four-year school rosters can turn 25-30% each year, but junior college rosters often turn 50% or more per year.

“I don’t see recruiting as a drudgery that comes with the job,” he said. “I love recruiting, bringing players and their families to campus and showing them that it’s a great place. A lot of coaches find it tedious, but not me.

“I also love being able to help kids get into four-year schools, whether they keep playing or just go to school and continue their education.”

Rhianna Gelhart – who spent two seasons as an assistant for Coats – served as the LCCC’s interim coach, putting the team through spring training and recruiting for the upcoming season. Shaver expects to have to fill three spots on the roster.

This has traditionally been a period in the recruiting calendar with few high caliber players looking for places to play. However, the NCAA’s transfer portal and the extra season of eligibility the organization extended to athletes at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic left many talented players looking for homes.

It could benefit the Eagles, Shaver said.

“The transfer portal has really cluttered things up for international players,” he said. “I don’t plan to sign many international players in the future. We will have a few here and there, but there are a lot more than usual because of the transfer portal. There are a lot of players available at the moment, it could really help us.”

While recruiting quality players is integral to building a winner, it’s not the foundation of a consistently good program, Shaver said.

“The difference to winning in volleyball isn’t just skill level or athleticism, it’s the culture of the program that makes the biggest difference,” he said. “We may not always be the most talented team on the pitch, but that doesn’t mean we won’t win games. We will win by being mentally stronger in everything we do.

“These factors make it really nice to see a team surpass their abilities and beat a team they’re not supposed to beat on paper. It just continues to snowball and grow, and that’s where you win consistently.”

Jeremiah Johnke is the editor of WyoSports. He can be reached at [email protected] or 307-633-3137. Follow him on Twitter at @jjohnke.

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