Melissa DeRan is the 12th head coach in Bates volleyball history. Photo courtesy of UNION COLLEGE SPORTS INFORMATION

Melissa DeRan is the 12th head coach in Bates volleyball history. Photo courtesy of UNION COLLEGE SPORTS INFORMATION

After last fall’s tough season, Bates women’s volleyball will enter a new era next fall with coach Melissa DeRan. Each and every player on the volleyball team is ecstatic about her arrival.

First-year Lisa Slivken said, “She is everything our program could have hoped for. We all can’t wait for next season to start! Her enthusiasm and energy will bring the type of change we need to be successful in the fall.”

I had the opportunity to talk in-depth with Coach DeRan about a variety of topics including her upbringing, previous jobs, and approach to coaching. Coach DeRan grew up in the Midwest, where volleyball was second only to walking. Whether or not she would play was never a question. After being the water girl for her sisters and starting to really play in fourth grade, she can’t remember a time when volleyball wasn’t a huge part of her life.

After being recruited to play at Murray State University in Kentucky, she began to understand that higher education is something she always wanted to be a part of. When volleyball and that aspiration came together, she felt that “realizing [she] could do this for a living was one of the best moments of [her] life.”

Coach DeRan most recently spent five years coaching at Union College in New York, and previously coached at St. Lawrence University, Tiffin University, and the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Coach DeRan grew up working with her sisters on a farm owned by her family, where she raised cattle and picked tomatoes. In addition to volleyball, work is one of her earliest memories. It is very obvious that Coach DeRan will uphold a work ethic that is central to the values of each individual player as well as the team as a whole. When the team met with her in the early stages of her interviewing process, they were excited by the intensity and vigor they knew she would bring to practice and games.

First-year Jacqueline Forney says of the team, “We want to pack the gym with supporters next season, a loud crowd will really help us win games.” It seems that Melissa DeRan can create an atmosphere that inspires not only us, but also the Bates community in turn.

After being 0-10 in league competition, the players are looking for a season that will turn their spirits around. Team goals in the past have included measurable improvements like point differentials, and limiting the number of errors committed per game.

Coach DeRan has similar goals in mind. She believes that if the team “does the right thing in practice, the wins are going to come.” She is more focused on the “strong and intense focus” the team will give in practice, and the results that will come from that. Coach DeRan adheres to the title of the book by famous football coach Bill Walsh in her approach: “the score will take care of itself.”

Whenever Coach DeRan talks about the coming season, or volleyball in general, anyone can see her passion come alive. When asked about her coaching philosophy, she was overwhelmed with enthusiasm. It is always hard to respond to this question, because there are so many factors that could affect the answer. The point she articulated had to do with the relationship between being a good player and being a good person. She said, “A great program comes from quality human beings.”

Coach DeRan will foster an environment where each player can thrive in all areas of their life.