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Director of Volleyball, Mr Eric Smith has spent the past 20 years at Toowoomba Grammar School not only shaping the minds of the young men in his science classroom but also working tirelessly on improving his capacity to coach volleyball to the highest level.

Starting at the School in 2003, Eric quickly rediscovered his passion for volleyball, something he had not experienced since playing for Ipswich Grammar School during the ‘90s.

“I felt completely at home back on the volleyball court and transferring my passion onto the athletes in my charge”.

It was the very next year that he took over the program as the Master-in-Charge (MIC) from 2004 – 2012.

“They were exciting times for the sport. It was really getting a great footing in the GPS community and our team numbers effectively doubled in these few short years,” said Eric.

Coach education was never far from his mind, completing his Level 1 and Level 2 in 2004, and his Level 3 in 2007.

“Completing my Level 3 back then really enabled me to guide the growth and impact of the TGS Volleyball program on our athletes. It gave me greater understanding of the psychology behind the game and the methods for tracking key statistical data from every match at 1st VI level,” Eric stated.

During the ensuing years, Eric coached a number of teams for TGS, including the 1st VI, 8A and 9A teams and externally with the Darling Downs U15 Boys and Queensland U15 Boys. In 2018 when the opportunity for the Director of Volleyball role became available, he knew what was needed.

“A Director role is greatly different to an MIC – you have more command of the direction of the sport and greater capacity in engaging with the wider community,” said Eric.

“I was now in a position to improve the teaching and learning of all of our coaching staff, adding to their volleyball knowledge and we could extend our players to the high-performance realm.”

The past four years has seen the greatest number of TGS athletes not only attend state team trials but also be selected across both volleyball disciplines, indoor and beach.

“There has been the occasional player to represent Queensland in the past, the likes of Cameron Weber, Alex Kerridge, David Marsh and William Cavaye, but the sheer volume of quality volleyball athletes we are producing today is not only a credit to the program but to all the coaching staff who have had an impact on those athletes to strive for the highest level.”

The icing on the cake for Eric was to have one of his players invited to the Australian Volleyball Academy in 2021.

“Ben Hood is an exceptional athlete and once he knew volleyball was going to be his pathway to success, he has never looked back. I am immensely proud that we have been able to produce an athlete like Ben who represents Australia.”

In July, the first ever Australian-based opportunity to obtain a FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball) qualification was jumped on by Eric as another opportunity to extend his coaching knowledge. The five-day course involved both theory and practical work with the 29 participants really put through their paces.

“This qualification is a ticket to coaching at the elite level throughout the world,” Eric stated.

“You needed to not only know your stuff but be able to execute it practically.”

Participants included former national Australian and Serbian players and high-performance coaches at the Australian Volleyball Academy. Unfortunately, not all participants passed the testing but still learnt so much about the game and methods of coaching that their clubs and schools will benefit from their new knowledge.

Eric’s focus for the next six months is to engage within the TGS community to develop our most junior players to their potential and to push our new 1st VI to a level they have never been.

“Achieving this accreditation gives me a sense of personal pride that I can match it as a coach at any level,” said Eric.

Further education of the TGS coaches and the wider Darling Downs volleyball coaches will ensue in time.


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