Q&A with Coach Andrea “Hammer” Roelen

  • Written by Derek Johnson
We might be in the heart of a hot summer, but fall is just around the corner. Andrea Roelen will soon enter her second season as head coach. The Woodinville Weekly caught up with her to get an update on her squad.   
IMG 5797WW: Recently you had your upperclassmen attend a camp at UW. Was this the first time Woodinville volleyball has made that trip? Please describe what happened.
AR: As you and I have talked about before, I really believe that putting time and effort into forming strong relationships between the young ladies and coaching staff in this program will benefit our teams during season so I felt it was important to have not only offer a strong spring/summer volleyball program (May 30th to July 18th) for anyone who was interested in WHS volleyball but to also arrange for a group of returning players, some sophomores to seniors, to spend some time together at the UW high school team camp.  The camp was long days and intense play with great coaching from UW Head Coach Keegan Cook and Associate Head Coach and WHS Alum Leslie "Tui" Gabriel and many current UW players.  We had not been to a team camp since I started coaching with the program as an assistant in Fall 2015, so I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for the players to become closer while playing together.
Additionally, camp provided an opportunity for the team to learn the methodology that is taught at UW, which I have recently become familiar with and am highly impressed with. Much of what we learned at camp, I will be incorporating into what we do with WHS volleyball, so it was a fantastic way for these girls to get a taste of this style of play, get lots of competition against other teams, and have team bonding time.  
WW: Last year was your first as head coach. Was there anything you learned that has altered your approach as you lead the Lady Falcons into the 2018 season?
AR:  Last year was a fantastic year of hard work and transition where players were getting to know me and my expectations and I got to know all of the players in the program a whole lot better.  It was just the beginning of incorporating my vision and huge hopes for the future of WHS volleyball. My staff and I had post season interviews with every player after last season and I got valuable feedback about their experiences, what they appreciated, what they liked, and suggestions for improvement.  I take every piece of that feedback to heart to see how I can grow, improve and mold the program to help every player be successful as a person, a student and an athlete.
For example, we weren't in that great of shape last season walking into pre-season in August, and by halfway into the season, the long hours and school stress took a toll on us.  So this winter, my C-team coach, Maren Duimstra, and I implemented a strength and conditioning program for the players and we have seen huge changes in their capabilities by getting their fitness level, endurance, strength, and mental toughness in a better place.  I am excited about continuing these type of workouts into the season so that we can hopefully be better able to push through the entire season and be strong to the end.
Last season also affirmed to me how important it is within the realm of volleyball, to help these young ladies learn and gain character building traits that will help them in their daily lives... young ladies these days need to learn how to feel confident and proud of who they are, to be empowered and learn to stand up for themselves, to be strong and learn how to balance life's pressures from academics, sports, social media, and relationships.  We need to teach them how to solve problems and learn to persevere through challenges and obstacles...  these are all things that I am adamant about teaching them when they are a part of WHS volleyball and as we do this, I am confident that this will lead to a successful and inspired Falcon volleyball program. 
WW:  Tryouts are scheduled for August 20th. Has there been increased interest from the student body? How is the squad shaping up?
AR: There has been SO much interest in WHS volleyball this spring and summer.  We have had a wonderful turnout for our open gyms and practices through July.  It looks like we will have a large number of sophomores through seniors returning to tryout, as well as a very large and talented group of freshman who have been coming to practices regularly.  It will be a very competitive tryout this year! Sadly, we won't be able keep everyone, but that means that those who do make the squads will have absolutely earned their spots and shown their potential to help create the next generation of Falcon volleyball players.  Anything could happen during tryouts so you will have to wait to ask me about the squads until after Aug 22nd when I will be very excited to share with you who has made the three teams!!
WW: Your season opens at home against Ballard on September 5th. To Woodinville residents reading this article, what can they expect if they come watch your girls play this fall?
AR: If Woodinville residents come out and watch our Lady Falcons play this season, they will see a much higher level of focus on ball control this year, and a concerted effort on quality passing and tough serving to score points and win rallies.  It is these two foundational skills, along with lots of game play in practices, that will help elevate our abilities, confidence and determination on the court this year. 
More importantly, I think fans will see these young ladies working hard as a team, supporting each other in moments of celebration and times of adversity, and being encouraged by coaches to "Go for it!"  Coaches and players will set the bar high for their team goals to see exactly what we can accomplish as a program. There has been an infectious energy in the gym this spring and summer and I can't wait for fans to see this energy develop on the court with the Lady Falcons during the upcoming volleyball season.

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