By: Matt Carney, Athletics Intern
This week's Coaches Corner features Penn State Brandywine volleyball coach Fabiana Scavicchio-Fields. Coach Scavicchio-Fields is entering her second season as head coach after leading her team to a PSUAC title in 2017, a year which saw Brandywine advance to the USCAA National Championship and win a school-record 25 matches. She hopes the team can find similar success in the upcoming season and has high hopes that they can achieve their goals.
MC: How long have you been involved with the sport of volleyball, whether it be playing or coaching?
FSF: Since fourth grade and I'm almost 40 so it's been a long time! I started playing in fourth grade and then I started coaching when I was in college so since 2008. I started coaching club; I coached a little bit in high school, but it wasn't as much as I am now.
MC: When you were a player, did you know that you eventually wanted to get into coaching?
FSF: Definitely. I had done it for so long; I always just wanted to be involved with the sport and at my height, I wasn't going professional so I had to find another way.
MC: What would say is your coaching philosophy and style?
FSF: I'm very open with my team; we run like family. I have no problem with them coming to talk to me and vice versa. We keep things open just so that we're all on the same page.
MC: You coached high school for a few years at Chichester High School. After your first season as a college coach, what to you is the biggest difference between coaching high school and coaching college?
FSF: There's so many [differences]. College is definitely more involved. In high school, you kind of just deal with the team when you're in season. But with college, I talk to my girls almost every single day out of season because we're always doing something. Whether it be recruiting, having them come for visits, or we're setting up team meetings, we're always talking so it's definitely more involved. The girls are more mature so they understand and have their own views. They talk about it more; they're not as shy and they're more motivated because they want to be there. Sometimes at the high school level, they're kind of just there to pass time, but in college, they have goals and they want to be able to be a part of a team, and they're establishing lifelong friendships so it pushes them to be involved more.
MC: Last season, Brandywine won the second conference championship in program history and set a record by winning 25 matches. Did you expect this kind of success right of the bat in your first year?
FSF: No I didn't. If people knew what we went through off the court, you would be surprised that we played so well. In the beginning, it was stressful because me coming in as a new coach and new players coming in, it was a whole change in the dynamic and the culture of the team, what they were used to and what we expected out of them. We weren't on the same page so there were definitely some growing pains. The first goal is to figure out where we're headed and make sure that we're all moving in the same direction and then to worry about winning. The girls are extremely talented so it made it a little bit easier, and when you win, you have more fun so that helped, I think.
MC: You mentioned moving forward and having to be on the same page. After your first season and the success that you had, what do think it will take to not only repeat as conference champions, but to even improve on what you accomplished in 2017?
FSF: Our goal in this offseason has been to bring in recruits that fit what we're looking to establish as a new program culture so we're trying to build a family atmosphere. We want the team to be friends after volleyball and to make sure that they're communicating in the offseason. When we have recruits come out, we make sure that the team has a chance to meet with them, and make sure that they themselves can vibe with somebody because part of our issue, as with any team, is if somebody's not vibing with you, it's going to be really tough to play with them because it is a team sport. That has been a big part of our offseason, hopefully to get us where we need to be next year.
MC: How is the team preparing, both on and off the court, for this upcoming season, and what are your expectations?
FSF: The team is very vocal about what they want and how they want it done. They've never been shy about telling me that, which I appreciate. We've had several meetings where they've come to me with what they're looking for out of the season and then we kind of collaborate on what we can do and what we're actually able to do, versus maybe a complete offset from something that we can actually accomplish. They set goals last year and then at the end of the year we check in on their goals. About a week ago, we started re-establishing new goals for this season so that's kind of how we tracked it and that's basically how we get through our season and how we maintain that. We expect to have a very successful season. The girls are excited; they're excited to have new people. We don't have a whole lot of returners coming back so that'll definitely be different for us, but the teams always been pretty small so it shouldn't be a big deal.