Jan. 7, 2013
MADISON, Wis. – New University of Wisconsin volleyball coach Kelly Sheffield made his first appearance in front of the Madison media on Monday at the UW’s weekly news conference.
Sheffield was hired by Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez on Dec. 28 to become the 10th head coach in Wisconsin volleyball history. Sheffield comes to Wisconsin after five years at the University of Dayton, where he was 131-33. He is 273-112 in 12 seasons as a head coach. His teams have made eight NCAA Tournament appearances and have won seven conference championships.
Opening Statement: It's certainly great to be here. I appreciate everything that the administration, especially Coach Alvarez and Terry Gawlik, did to make me feel welcome in going through the hiring process. I couldn't have been more fired up to get here. We got here late last Tuesday night, and it's been a whirlwind. This is one of the premier jobs in our sport, and I'm certainly fired up to get started.
Take us back to the first time that either you were contacted or you contacted Wisconsin about the job.
(It) seems like a lifetime ago. There's so much that's kind of gone on between then and now. I think you're initially really excited because this is, I think, one of the best universities in the country and one of the best cities in the country, one of the best fan bases in the country and unbelievable tradition.
You're excited about getting that phone call, but also understanding that for me, I was in a really good position as well. You just go through your due diligence and just try to find out exactly what is going on and if this is going to be a good fit, a good match.
I think one of the things that's very, very clear here is, when you're talking with the administration, is that the critical thing with them is finding the right fit, and I think that I'm learning that in the week I've been here and in the past couple of weeks just talking with people, they want to win, but they want to do things the right way. Having that right fit is very, very important.
When you're going through the process, you're trying to learn that is it also a right fit for myself and my family? Certainly, there is the initial phone call and then start saying, all right, is this thing going to work?
Coach, what do you think of the personnel you have here? I don't know if you've met the team yet. And just playing in the Big Ten has some of the best teams in the country.
I've talked to every player on the phone. What is impressive with me is they seem really, really excited. Of course, they'd better be. To kind of get this thing turned around, you'd better tackle it with some enthusiasm. They seem like they're very fired up to get going.
I think there's really, really good talent here. I think they've been hit with the injury bug the last few years, and that's gotten in the way of maximizing their potential. Hopefully, we'll be able to get these guys healthy. I think there's really, really good pieces.
From a depth standpoint, I think there's challenges in certain positions. I think we're going to be young at the middle position. I think we've got some injuries on the outside, but there's some talent out there. I think we've got a lot of ball control players in the backcourt. Our setting and our right side looks to be pretty stable. We've got to get some depth.
The Big Ten, man, that's an animal, no question about it. You've got seven of the top 22 teams in the final poll in this conference. Every night … you're in a battle even against the lower teams in this conference, and that's for everybody. There's no off nights. But that's what you sign up for. That's what gets you fired up and excited is about every night's a challenge.
Being able to move past what just happened and focus on what is in front of you, that's a critical key to being in a conference that's as loaded as this. From a coaching staff, that will be a different challenge for us. For the kids, I don't care how long you've been in here or what school that you're at, that is always the challenge is, hey, this train keeps moving regardless.
It's your responsibility as coaches and players to get on that train as it's moving forward and get focused on what's in front of you. It's a beast. I'll tell you what, I couldn't be more excited to get in and be a part of it.
Kelly, do you have a staff put together? If so, could you tell us who they are.
We're working on that. One of the things that's really impressed me about the people here is that things -- the ball's moving really, really quickly. This isn't a school where it's given to one person and they've got to do everything. There's a lot of people that are trying to make this happen so I can get the people here that I need to pretty quickly.
We're still in the process. We're not in a position to announce anybody by any means. I can tell you this, we had a lot of people apply for this for all of the positions and some really, really quality people. We're just doing our due diligence now.
Hopefully, in the next coming days or next week or two, we'll be able to announce hopefully everybody.
You mentioned you were able to speak to the current players. Were you able to reach those who had signed, and are they all coming?
Everybody's all in. To me, that's one thing -- that's a major selling point of this university is that they want to play here in front of this crowd and go to this school. And I called each of them, and I was expecting there to be some hesitation or some question marks. I didn't even finish my first sentence before they're -- every one of them, ‘Coach, I'm all the way in. Don't worry about me.’
Actually, one of the kids was kind of, when she was talking ‘Hey, do you still want me?’ And I said yeah. And she said it was a thousand pound weight that just went off of her shoulders. I think she was doing back flips as I was talking. They're all excited to get going.