Cavalier Corner

April 2017

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CAVALIER SPORTS Aaron Smith is working his dream job. Smith was named the head coach of the Vir‑ ginia volleyball program in February 2017 after serving as UVA's associate head coach for one season and assistant coach for four seasons. "I grew up an UVA fan coming to football and basketball games, and it was just a place I could see myself," Smith said. Prior to his time at Virginia, Smith was an as‑ sistant coach at Northwestern for three seasons from 2009‑11. The Wildcats reached the NCAA Tournament round of 32 in 2010, only the second time in school history. "When I started coaching a little over 10 years ago, I identified Virginia as the place that when you think about your dream, that's it," the Rich‑ mond, Va., native said. "I don't exactly know why I chose UVA, but it was in my home state, it was school where I felt volleyball could be big and it was a school where I know the athletic department supports their teams." Smith takes over a program that has struggled to win consistently under former coaches Lee Maes and Dennis Hohenshelt, although Hohenshelt led Virginia to three consecutive winning seasons from 2013‑15, for the first time since 2006‑08. Virginia's last NCAA Tournament appearance was in 1999. Asked why he thought he could bring a win‑ ning brand of volleyball to Charlottesville, Smith was ready with the answer. "Edge and a personality that the players will want to play for," he said. "I learned quite a bit under Coach Hohenshelt and so some of things I do are similar, but I'm also a very different coach. "My personality, the way I run the gym and the way I recruit are different, and I'm different than Coach Maes." Smith also feels he's identified some para‑ digms that must change, and with a lot of young players he sees this as the right time to make some adjustments. "I see our team having success with a different type of culture," he said. "It's a cool time to take over the program and to establish what we want this program to be about, what you want your legacy to be and let's make it happen." "Aaron clearly articulated his vision and plan for Virginia volleyball to be successful with a focus on the overall development of current and future UVA student‑athletes," executive associate athletics director Jon Oliver stated. In five years, Smith expects a new approach for the program having taken hold. "Look at how hard our players play, the effort they put forth and the energy that provide to each other," he said of his vision. "No matter if it's a 7 o'clock a.m. practice, a 3 o'clock p.m. afternoon practice or a match, effort and energy, that's the expectation." — Greg Waters APRIL 2017 ◆ 9 BEHIND THE SCENES NEW VOLLEYBALL HEAD COACH AARON SMITH Smith served as UVA's associate head coach for one season and assistant coach for four seasons, and helped guide the program to three straight winning seasons for the first time since 2006-08. PHOTO BY KELSEY GRANT/ COURTESY UVA

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