COMMENTARY: Harasymowycz brings ‘fresh ideas’ from men’s volleyball


Middle blocker Jamie Straube goes up for a kill against Miami on Saturday, Dec. 3, during the second round of the NCAA Volleyball Championship. Straube lead the team in kills and points with a total of 12 kills and 14 points throughout the match.

Dylan Montz

New ISU assistant volleyball coach Greg Harasymowycz is constantly vocal to his players.

Whether that is giving them positive reinforcement or correcting mistakes he sees during practice, he lets the players hear it. That is the way he has been used to running things, especially during the last four years.

Harasymowycz came to Iowa State from UCLA, where he was an assistant coach for the men’s volleyball team for four seasons under legendary coach Al Scates.

Scates, who has been the Bruins’ coach since 1963, has a career record of 1239-290, making him the winningest coach in NCAA volleyball history — men’s or women’s. He has also won 19 NCAA titles, which ties him for the most titles won by a coach in a single sport.

Harasymowycz said one of the most valuable things that he learned from Scates in his four years at UCLA is that giving feedback to players all the time and holding them accountable for how they play as far as the stats are concerned is very important.

“I look at the athletes and give them as much feedback as I possibly can, and then statistically we tell them whether or not they are getting better or whether they still need to improve,” Harasymowycz said.

During Harasymowcyz’s hiring process, coach Christy Johnson-Lynch was looking for a coach to bring in that passion for statistics and feedback giving the team a fresh perspective on performance.

Volleyball is a game of statistics, and with Harasymowcyz on the ISU staff, they will become an intricate part of how practice is conducted. When the coaches go watch film and look at stats from practices and matches, they will be able to provide accurate feedback of what the player needs to do to better their game.

Harasymowycz believes in what Al Scates’ philosophy is in the UCLA men’s program and will try to incorporate his own understanding and style to the ISU squad, which has been adjusting to this new perspective since Harasymowycz first arrived in Ames.

Coming from men’s volleyball, the transition to the women’s game for Harasymowycz is not a very difficult one. With the men’s game being more offensively strong and women’s having stingier defense, this was an opportunity for Iowa State to incorporate new components of offensive play.

“The immediate impact and the biggest thing I think [Harasymowycz] has brought [to the team] is our back row attack. And then I think he is just going to be a great influence on our middle blockers,” Johnson-Lynch said.

One of the things Harasymowycz said he is trying to do at Iowa State that is done at UCLA men’s team is to give the attackers more options to make the offense more potent.

For defenses, this kind of attack from offenses would require a higher level of concentration because the attacks could come from anywhere, whether it be back row or in the middle.

For senior Jamie Straube, having Harasymowycz join the team has been a great thing, and his positivity while coaching has been a great way to start off the season. His fresh perspective has also been healthy for the 2012 team to experience early on.

“He will explain things in a different way where maybe you learn it a little better,” Straube said. “Just like any other subject -— if you teach it in a different way, maybe people will learn it a little better. He just does a really good job of throwing in key words to think about when you are blocking or hitting.”

Against Cincinnati, Florida State and Tennessee to begin the 2012 season, the Cyclones managed to earn 32 total blocks, indicating that the middle blockers and hitters are just beginning to blossom under a new approach to that aspect.

Harasymowycz said he feels the team has been responding well to his coaching style and his observations of coaching in both the men’s and women’s game, which has made for a smoother transition for UCLA to Iowa State.

“Christy has told me that the team is full of very nice people,” Harasymowycz said. “So I think they’ve given me an opportunity just because they see I came from UCLA, or they believe in me based on the fact that they are nice people. So because they are so nice and so willing to be given feedback, it’s allowed me to coach them.”

With Harasymowycz style of coaching, added schemes and overall demeanor, the Cyclones will try to go someplace they haven’t been before: the Final Four.

Dylan Montz is a junior in journalism from Mechanicsville, Iowa.