MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3)—As the clock winds down on summer, the WIU volleyball team is ramping up to start their season. Players reported for team meetings on Friday, and second-year head coach, Ben Staupe, said he was happy to have them back.
Staupe and the Leathernecks look to have an improved season for 2019. The coach had strong words for their 2018 season, during which they managed a 3-26 record.
“We won 3 matches. It’s not acceptable,” he said. “We need to win more. That’s why we are here, and that’s why I am here. I need to find that way, and we need to find the way to do that.”
Though last year wasn’t lost, the team made important steps towards building a winner both on and off the floor.
“It takes a while for them to start understanding where you are coming from…that they can trust you as a coach and as a person. We want to keep building on that trust,” said Staupe. “We need to make sure everyone is on the same page. I think by the end, we were proving we were on the same page.”
Winning is going to be important to this team. Staupe says he would really like to make it to the conference tournament this year, which has been accomplished only once by the Leathernecks since 2010.
More important than that, however, is the culture that Staupe has been working hard to build.
“You want to be a family. Our motto this year is our team, our family,” he said. “It’s their team, and I want them to take ownership over being a Leatherneck. I want them to be proud of being a Leatherneck.”
Staupe wasn’t shy about the importance of his culture. In fact, players have been benched for not putting forth the behavior he deemed acceptable. Despite a couple of issues, there was one moment Staupe seemed rather proud of.
“We had a fantastic situation when we went to North Dakota,” said Staupe. “A security guard grabbed me and said ‘Coach, this is the first time as long as I have been doing this that every single woman walked by me, said thank you, and looked me in the eye when I held the door for them,’ and that’s an accomplishment because we need to be better people too.”
On and off the court, the Leathernecks are looking to improve in wins, and as people. That journey will start with an exhibition match against NIU in DeKalb, Illinois, on August 17.