|Gale Lackey, head women’s volleyball coach, has coached at Wesleyan 29 years.|
| Q: How many years have you worked here, and how many years here have you coached volleyball?
A: I think I have outlasted most of the coaches in NESCAC. This is my 29th year at Wesleyan, and my 22nd term coaching the volleyball team.
Q: In your opinion, why is Volleyball so exciting to play and watch?
A: Volleyball is one of the most popular team sports in the world. It requires efficient movement because, unlike many other popular team sports in our country, it is a rebound sport not a possession sport. The movement prior to the rebound contact is extremely important to ones success. The team aspect is also very unique, very dependent and very reciprocal. Lots of fast scoring and dynamic, athletic and powerful movements on both offense and defense make it a terrific spectator sport.
Q: The volleyball season began Sept. 8. What is your record and what have been the highlights of the season so far?
A: As of Oct. 16, we are 13-6 and 4-3 in the NESCAC conference. Our highlight thus far was defeating both Tufts and Amherst, two of the top teams in our conference, in one weekend.
Q: Who are the stars of this years team?
A: We dont like to single anyone out as a star. Statistically we do have some conference leaders in a variety of categories. Lisa Drennan 09 leads the conference in kills per game, Ellie Healy 10 leads the conference in assists per game and Becca Rodger 08 leads the conference in aces per game. We also have two top ten conference leaders for blocks in Allison Heaney 09 and Caroline Rober 08 and our lone senior Tory Molnar 07 is a top ten leader in digs.
Q: After coaching for more than three decades, do you ever get tired of coaching? What keeps it interesting?
A: I have actually been coaching for 37 years, and no, I never get tired of the actual practice and match coaching. The game of volleyball has evolved over the years, like many sports, rules have been changed or been added, or methods of scoring have changed. I have been challenged by these changes. They have given me an opportunity to grow and to learn more. Embracing the changes and being enthusiastic about them has kept it exciting and interesting for me. Coaching is teaching with a competitive twist. My job as a coach is to push and enhance the competitiveness of these young women. I want them to improve every week we are together.
Q: You have more than 370 wins in your career. What is your goal?
A: Without question, I would love to be a part of 500-career wins, take a NESCAC Championship or more and win a few more Little Three Championships before I retire. But my real goals are more process-oriented, as they have always been. I want to be consistent in what I expect from my players, to be as prepared as possible so that I can perform as well as possible and to continue to learn as much as I can from my players and the game.
Q: Who are your assistant coaches?
A: Joe Rouse and Bonnie Fineman. Joe is the Hedding Professor of Moral Science, chair of the Science in Society program and professor of philosophy. Hes been my assistant coach for 22 years and deserves a great deal of credit for all of our successes over the years. Bonnie joined us in 2005. She was named Boys High School Volleyball Coach of the Year three times by the New Haven Register and twice by the Connecticut Post. She is a very talented young coach.
Q: Where did you begin your coaching career?
A: I coached volleyball at the University of Bridgeport for one year and at Spring Grove High School in Pennsylvania for seven years.
Q: Where are your degrees from?
A: I have a bachelors of science and a masters of education in health and physical education from West Chester University in Pennsylvania.
Q: Where did you grow up and what brought you to Connecticut?
A: I grew up in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, a very small town in Southern York County. I started playing competitive volleyball there at the age of 13. The opportunity for college coaching happened to bring me to Connecticut.
Q: In 2001, your team had a best-ever 30-6 record and a first-ever invitation to the NCAA Division III tournament. For this you were named the 2001 Coach of the Year. How did this make you feel?
A: The players on that team earned that record and the bid to the NCAA Championship. Being honored by our NESCAC coaching peers was very gratifying. That award belonged to the coaching staff. Jess Rooney 00, a former player and Joe Rouse were my assistants that season. Jesss enthusiasm and competitive spirit were very contagious, and I cant say enough about the contributions of Joe over the past 22 years. He volunteers and is totally committed to our program from a pure love of the game.
Q: In addition to coaching, you are the associate director of athletics, physical education coordinator and the senior woman administrator for the Athletics Department. Tell me about these roles.
A: I am the NCAA and NESCAC compliance coordinator for our department. This involves interpreting rules and certifying and maintaining all eligibility for our athletes. I am also involved with student-athlete welfare issues. This involves working closely with our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and planning educational programming for our student-athletes. As the Senior Woman Administrator I attend all NESCAC Administrator meetings, the annual NCAA convention and serve on committees for the NESCAC conference. I also maintain and update the Student-Athlete handbook annually. I consistently serve on reappointment and promotion committees for my colleagues. I am also the coordinator for the physical education curriculum.
Q: Do you teach any physical education classes?
A: Yes, I teach Beginning Foil Fencing. I also teach a Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies course titled Gender and Sport.
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: I enjoy reading, gardening and golf. I love to spend my free time near the ocean and beach. I am also an avid participant in Tai Chi, Pilates and meditation.
Q: Do you favor any other sports? Any teams you root for?
A: I have also coached field hockey and lacrosse here at Wesleyan in the past. I am very happy about both teams recent successes. Although this is hard to admit in Red Sox nation and Yankee land, I am a lifelong Baltimore Orioles fan and love to catch a game or two every summer at beautiful Camden Yards.
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|