Kevin Pratte: Winning Gold Medals is Not Everything

I started coaching volleyball when I was 19 years old. It was really fun coaching during the summer while I was playing college volleyball at the University of the Pacific. It was a fun summer job. For the past 15 years, I have either been coaching club, high school or college volleyball. It has been a blast! 


I have had the luxury of coaching NCAA division one women's volleyball, NCAA division one men's volleyball, community college men's and women's volleyball, high school boys' and girls' varsity volleyball and high school club volleyball.

Currently, I coach varsity high school volleyball at The Bishop's School in La Jolla, CA and club high school boys' volleyball at WAVE in Del Mar, CA. There are generally 14 student-athletes on each team I coach.

The game is getting way more physical in terms of student-athletes jumping high and attacking the ball hard. I believe this is because middle and high school athletes are lifting. Also, middle school volleyball players are getting trained at a high level by their coaches and are becoming very fundamentally sound by the time they are high school volleyball players. It is fun to see high school student-athletes jump serving aggressively and hitting the back row attacks with a lot of power. 


I was raised by a marriage and family therapist and a journalist. My parents are great and taught me to always say hello and be respectful to others. I can't help it, but if someone enters the gym that is not part of our program I always say hi to them.

I believe this is great because it teaches my student-athletes to be friendly. However, it can get me off track a little bit at practice. I believe you can be a nice coach and still have a winning program. My hope is I am modeling behavior to my student-athletes to always be polite and inviting to others.


I think it’s important to get into coaching to make an impact on your student-athletes lives. I am not going to say that winning is not important. Everyone wants to win. I have been blessed to win gold medals as a coach at the USA High-Performance Championships, won at qualifiers as a coach and had success at the high school level.

That's all great, but it is not the reason I coach. My favorite moments are when my student-athletes get into college, my former student-athletes show up to the practices I am running during the summer and receiving handwritten letters from my former players checking in with me.


#stayathome 

With the programs that I coach at we are doing a ton of zoom meetings. We break down film by studying our opponent and seeing what we can do better in matches. Also, my student-athletes are getting workouts from our strength and conditioning coach to stay in tip-top shape. At The Bishop's School, our varsity boys' volleyball program has a strength and conditioning coach.

 

 

The guys lift at least twice a week and our coaches talk to our student-athletes about nutrition. Not only does lifting make our guys stronger, but it helps with their muscle recovery after playing two to three matches a week. To be an elite volleyball player you have to be all in with nutrition, weight lifting and getting reps at practice to improve on your game. At WAVE our owner and director are doing a fantastic job running zoom meetings. Setting up workouts and keeping our athletes engaged.

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Today was one of my favorite memories with @bishopsknights_boysvolleyball ! With the help of Laurie, our awesome team Mom! I delivered end of the year gift packages to the varsity players! It included a motivational book, cookies and a yearbook dedicated to our 2020 season! This group was very special! I was thrilled we hit all of our goals and I truly believe we were on our way to hit the rest of our goals on the season! There is no doubt in my mind this squad was on a mission to win the CIF Championship. I am honored to coach this 2020 squad and there is no other group of guys I would want to represent in San Diego High School volleyball! Goals: Have over 25 wins: 15-1 on the season with 16 more to play. Beat The Saints: Check! Beat Francis Parker: (did not play them due to Covid) Top four finish at Sweetwater Tournament: Check, we won the tournament. Top four finish at Del Lago Tournament: (Did not play due to Covid) Top four finish at Valhalla Tournament: (Did not play due to Covid) Win League: (Covid) Win CIF: (Covid) 2020 Themes: 1.) Unfinished Businesses 2.) Volleyball is the banquet on which we feast 3.) Passing is the hunger in the fire we breath #unfinishedbusiness #winforever #dreambig

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I see different challenges with beginners versus more experienced players. With beginners, you are simply trying to teach them rotations and teach them how to love this wonderful game. With more experienced players as a coach, you want to stress that everything matters.

For example, lifting weights, eating healthy, studying film on the upcoming opponent, reading the scouting report, know how to attack a team's weaknesses and much more. The art of coaching is getting these experienced student-athletes to always strive to be one to two percent better every day. If the student-athletes buy into this commitment of excellent then the chances of winning those two-point sets and matches goes up a great deal.


I would like to see more opportunities for male student-athletes to play in college. There has been a good push from Coach John Speraw (UCLA men's volleyball coach and USA men's national team head coach) and the committee that he is on. They have increased teams at the NCAA D II, D III, and NAIA level.

It would be nice if power 5 schools like Nebraska, Arizona, Northwestern, Florida and many more offered NCAA division one men's volleyball at their university. Right now high school boys' volleyball is growing at an extremely fast rate and providing more opportunity to play NCAA division one volleyball would be fantastic for our sport.

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