Volleyball: From the Nashua Telegraph - DWC has top coach for all seasons
This article is reprinted with permission of the Nashua Telegraph. It ran on Tuesday, April 6, 2010. Learn more about the Telegraph and see the original article by clicking here.
By TOM KING Staff Writer
NASHUA – Don’t be fooled by Braden Zamore’s youthful appearance.
“He’s older than he looks,” Daniel Webster College athletic director John Griffith said of his 25-year-old men’s and women’s volleyball coach. “You look at him, and you wonder, ‘Is he going to be able to sell the dream?’
“Well, he’s been able to bring in a lot of good players, and he’s got something going now.”
That’s evident by the Eagles women’s New England Collegiate Conference championship won last fall, and the that fact Zamore took the men’s team to the conference finals last month before falling to Newbury. For his efforts, he received NECC Coach of the Year honors not only last fall but this winter. It’s a feat achieved by one of the top small college volleyball coaches around, Rivier’s Craig Kolek, who won the GNAC top coach honors for women and the New England Collegiate Volleyball Association honors for men in 2003-04.
With the men, Zamore resurrected a program that had been dormant for a decade. The Eagles women have surged in a more competitive conference, going 7-0 in NECC play and 16-6 overall last fall.
Thus it’s fitting that Zamore is a double winner.
“It’s quite an honor,” he said of his dual awards. “Mostly because there are some incredible coaches in our conference who have done a fantastic job with their teams. Myself and (assistant) coach Chia (Rowe) have worked pretty hard at developing the programs, so it’s satisfying to know our work has been paying off.”
Zamore, a native of Chesterfield, coached both the men’s and women’s teams at Central Maine Community College. He played the sport at Keene High School and helped start and coach a club team at the University of Southern Maine.
He was originally a soccer guy, but was cut his freshman year. A friend “dragged” him into volleyball tryouts at Keene, and “I got hooked on it. ... It’s funny how things work out. Hate to say it’s a blessing to get cut from a team but it steered me in this direction.”
The tougher team to coach right now is the men, simply because there are fewer schools playing it so the recruiting is intense.
“Any good player for the boys in the northeast, every coach knows about him and is trying to pursue that player,” he said. “So there are challenges. But I feel with the way we recruit, and selling the program and the school itself, we’ve been able to bring in some talented players.
“My players get a good idea right off the bat, that we’re here to win and that we take this very seriously. And I think they respect that. The important part is these players want to eat, live and breathe volleyball. …
“We do have a great time, but they know they’re here to compete at a pretty high level. It’s within the first couple of preseason practices that they know. I really push my players hard.”
Zamore first got the coaching bug with JV girls volleyball at Gorham (Maine) High School. He was only 19 years old. So he’s always been relatively close in age to his players.
“That,” he said, “are when the first few practices are so important. … It takes some time to gain that respect from the players for them to realize that ‘OK, he’s not here to be my friend. He’s here to support me academically but on the court he’s here to push me hard.’”
Now, he has the hardware to back him up.
“They (NECC voters) were probably looking at the level that we play at,” Zamore said, “and also the improvement from year-to-year. Our men’s team a year ago went 5-13, 2-6 in the conference.”
This year, they were 6-2 in NECC play and 9-12 overall. Zamore enjoys the dual varsity role, with one season starting almost as soon as the other one ends.
“It has its challenges compared to someone who only coaches the women’s team in their school,” Zamore said. “I have half the time to recruit. But at the same time it keeps me motivated, rather than coaching for two months and having nine,10 months off. It’s nice to have another season in there when I can keep myself motivated and on the go.”
Of course, that leads to more comparisons to Kolek, whose Rivier team will compete in the NECVA tournament this coming weekend at Cape Cod, aiming for its second national Final Four trip in four years.
“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Craig the last two years, since our women’s teams play each other,” Zamore said. “I’m not surprised he’s won two awards in the same year; he’s done such a fantastic job with both of his programs. ...
“We’ve built a relationship the last two years and he’s a great guy to really learn from. Just to see what he does, because he has the formula for success. His players are very disciplined, know what they’re job is on the court.”
“Using Craig as a measuring stick is not a bad thing,” Griffith said. “It’s like ‘Here’s where we’re going and here’s how we’re going to get there.’
“I think (Zamore) has got a great future ahead of him.”
“I absolutely love where I am right now,” Zamore said. “I love coaching and can see myself doing this for a long time.”
© 2009, Telegraph Publishing Company, Nashua, New Hampshire