Women on Wednesdays: For ETSU volleyball coach, graduation is a successful attack

Tony Casey • Updated Apr 5, 2017 at 9:19 PM

Not every college-bound women’s volleyball player will be the right fit for East Tennessee State University’s team.

Head coach Lindsey Devine is the gatekeeper of the team, deciding who joins and who doesn’t.

“I don’t like that moment at all,” she said Wednesday about having to be upfront with potential ETSU athletes who aren’t selected for the team.

She explained the difficult parts of her job during her “Power of Passion — Pillars of Success” talk in the Women on Wednesdays lecture series put on by the Women’s Studies department on campus.

Director Dr. Phyllis Thompson introduced Devine as having, among other accolades, the most victories by a coach in program history. Devine has served as head women’s volleyball coach for 15 years, and led the Buccaneers to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in 2012.

Devine’s expectations for prospective athletes are a little different from the typical athletic prowess sought by other collegiate coaches. The ability to perform physically is a big aspect of recruitment, but Devine is also looking for academic achievement and the ability to cooperate and succeed.

“Does the athlete make eye contact?” she told the audience. “Do the parents do all the talking?”

Her five pillars, explained in detail to the group, include leadership, relationships, culture, trust and empowerment.

Devine said working with young women is much different than with the young men she coached in Canada.

“We deal with them totally differently,” Devine said.

“Their emotions and hormones are all over the place.”

But with practice at 6 a.m., and a high standard that requires a grade check-in every Monday morning, Devine boasts a figure she’s more proud of than her career wins and losses — a 100 percent graduation rate.

“How many coaches can say that over 15 years?” Thompson asked in the question-and-answer session that followed the lecture.

Winning, to Devine, is more about graduation and accomplishment than it is about scoring the most points on the volleyball court.

Her talk concludes the 2016-17 lecture series. It will return in the fall, with an announcement of the scheduled talks to be released in the summer.

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