First year Tech volleyball head coach Michelle Collier has been immersed in the world of volleyball since the day she was born.
“I grew up playing in Brazil which is one of the biggest countries in the world regarding volleyball,” Collier said.
Collier joins Tech from Jacksonville University where she guided JU to the 2013 Atlantic Sun regular season and conference championships. JU finished with a 30-4 record on the year. Collier was also 2013 Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year.
She was surrounded by volleyball and inevitably developed a great understanding and deep love for the game. Collier attended University of South Florida and is praised as one of the best college volleyball players in history, ranking 5th in NCAA Division I history.
However, she did not stop there. Collier also played professional volleyball at an international level for four years, during which she was exposed to unique coaching styles that she says contributed to her own coaching style. Because of her time as a volleyball player, she is more adaptable to different people, enabling her to get the best out of her players which is essential when there are constant changes to team dynamics as players come in and out. And now, Collier is fearlessly leading the volleyball program here at Georgia Tech.
Currently Tech is 11-15 with a conference record of 4-9. The team has battled throughout the regular season and has had struggles on the road where they have a 2-8 record.
However, the team is quite young with only one senior, Courtney Felinski, getting major playing time. The majority of the team’s key players are freshmen and sophomores, including sophomore twins Teegan and Annika Van Gunst who are first and second in kills respectively. With not many veteran players on the team, there are obstacles to overcome.
Collier knows that she needs to keep the girls focused while working on building their confidence and consistency. She is confident that the team will continue to grow and mature together as the season progresses.
“We have really good people around us. The girls work hard and push themselves, and there’s a lot of kindhearted people,” Collier said.
Collier believes it is important to have a good relationship with the players on and off the court. Being honest and fair but also pushing the girls are important aspects when it comes to coaching.
“You really have to earn trust from your players and be approachable and make sure they’re comfortable around you,” Collier explained.
The team practices two hours a day. Practicing ball control is important and is mastered by getting many touches on the ball. Collier also believes repetition is important, helping to build confidence and skill. There is also a balance between position-specific practice and team practice, and weaknesses are addressed and improved upon in preparation of games.
“I truly believe that if you take care of the easier part of the game then the harder part becomes easier. I like to teach the game overall, but I focus on the fundamentals a lot,” Collier said.
With Collier at the helm, great things can be expected from Tech volleyball in the future. Collier herself has great expectations for Tech volleyball.
“I have always wanted an opportunity to coach at a place where I could be one of the top teams in the country, and I think we can be that at Georgia Tech,” Collier said.
Collier is confident in her coaching abilities and her goals for Tech’s volleyball future. The process will be easier with the bulk of Tech’s current volleyball squad returning next season.
“I think our main focus is playing exciting volleyball and getting better as a team and bringing us back to the top of the ACC and hopefully top 25 in the country. We have everything in place to have that happen,” Collier said.