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Profile: Steve Pike brings US National Team experiences to Brockport

by Sarah Killip - Staff Photographer
Tue, Sep 24th 2019 08:00 pm
All the coaches at a USA Volleyball camp posed in front of a giant volleyball with the organization's logo. Pike is the fourth from the left in the photograph.
All the coaches at a USA Volleyball camp posed in front of a giant volleyball with the organization's logo. Pike is the fourth from the left in the photograph.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to The College at Brockport head volleyball coach Steve Pike. Carrying six years of head coaching experience at Brockport and 11 years as head coach for SUNY Potsdam prior to his current post, Pike has also worked multiple years as an assistant coach for the USA National Women’s Volleyball camps.

Throughout the past 11 years, Pike has coached and trained numerous athletes nationwide while working with United States Olympians and coaches.

The start of Pike’s journey began when he started helping with tryouts for some USA developmental youth programs, which are for players ages 17 and under.

“They run tryouts throughout the country for younger aged girls, usually from February to April, and you pay to go tryout to make a youth team,” Pike said. “From there, I was fortunate enough, blessed enough, to get selected to work some of their summer programs.”

Pike has been able to help coach these summer programs for the past five years.

“I’ve been able to work with the top 48 kids in the country, at 15 and 16,” he said. “These are female athletes who have tried out, and most of them are committed to top level Division I, top 10 programs in the country.”

The girls go through five days of rigorous training and are divided into groups of 12 based on their skill level. After training, the girls get to compete in a tournament called High Performance Championships, which are like a mini-olympics for players 18 and under.

“I was an assistant coach this summer for the top 12 group,” Pike said. “We played up an age level in the 17 and 18 bracket and won the bronze medal.”

Gaining even more experience, Pike has been able to assist as a coach for the 2018 and 2019 USA National Women’s Volleyball Team tryouts. These tryouts take place in Colorado Springs, Colo. at the Olympic Training Center. They host about 200 female athletes looking to make either the Women’s National Team or a collegiate national team. Most of the athletes are from Division I schools and are either in the middle or nearing the end of their college careers and are looking to become professionals. This three-day process is held every March and is run by USA National Team coaches.

Being able to work with these other coaches made a huge impact on Pike. One of his fellow coaches was five-time Olympian Danielle Scott-Arruda. Scott-Arruda is the only five-time Olympian in the history of the National Volleyball Program. They also bring in a mentor coach to help the coaching staff.

“Our mentor coach was Cecile Reynaud, who’s in the Hall of Fame for coaching roughly 30 years as head coach at Florida State,” Pike said. “She’s on the board for USA, so she sat on our bench and just gave us ideas and talked to us about how we coach. It’s a growing experience for me. It’s awesome to get to put on a USA jersey and think, not only do I get to coach for our country, but to have other coaches there mentoring you, and you’re learning and growing... it’s special.”

Throughout this process, Pike was able to bring back new ideas and skills to the Golden Eagles. He has spent a lot of time focusing on the little details.

“Timeouts. How to take them, how to make sure that you’re intense enough that [the athletes] get that there’s meaning, but you only give them two or three things that you know they’re going to be able to execute,” Pike said. “Tell them what to execute and what they’re doing now. You’re not really talking about the past and what’s going wrong or how the other team scored, you’re going to go out there and, ‘here’s what we’re going to do, and here’s the two things we’re going to do on this next ball,’ and just help them be successful on the next ball.”

Junior Meaghan Mastro, a member of Pike’s Brockport team, feels as though her coach’s experiences have helped the team grow tremendously.

“Coach Pike is always trying to improve his coaching ability,” Mastro said. “I feel like he has improved at knowing how to communicate with each player because everyone receives feedback and critique in different ways.”

Senior Elena Grossman points out that practices are always competitive and that as a whole, the team is learning new skills and ideas, many thanks to Pike’s experience with Team USA.

“He definitely brings everything back to our practices,” Grossman said. “We’re always doing a new drill here and there, and he’s always reading and looking for ways to help us as a team.”

Pike is grateful for the experiences he’s been given, and hopes to make Brockport’s volleyball team better each day.

“I’m still getting better, I’ve got to get better. If I can get better, then our whole program gets better.”

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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