When the Saint Mary’s sand volleyball team found itself in need of a coach just a few months before the 2014 season, Gaels indoor coach Rob Browning knew to look South.
Thats where he found Mike Dodd, 1996 Olympic silver medalist, member of the Volleyball Hall of Fame and longtime coach to some of the best beach players in the country. He came north from his home in Southern California to coach a Gaels team that had enjoyed a tremendously successful first season under then-head coach Brent Crouch in 2013.
If anyone was familiar enough to step right in for the Gaels, it was Dodd. His daughter, Dalas, was already a standout for Saint Mary’s both on the sand and in the gym so it seemed only natural that Dodd could lend his vast expertise to a team already serving it up with gusto.
Browning and the coaching staff assisted Dodd on the sand as he helped the Gaels grow and improve as both players and people. The team finished the season 11-2 and sent a pair to the AVCA National Championships for the second straight year.
“With the professionals, they’ve played for years and logged thousands and thousands of hours. They know the nuances of the game, know how to play the wind, how to have impeccable fundamentals, so it’s truly fine-tuning with them,” Dodd said. “Here, I leave practice hoarse because I’ve never talked so much. There’s so much information and they’re so eager to learn and so willing. It’s a completely different dynamic and one I’m thoroughly enjoying.”