Scenic West Athletic Conference (SWAC) 2013 Coach of the Year and Bruin’s head volleyball coach Sue Dulaney brings talent from around the world to Salt Lake City, Utah.
With limited financial resources, Coach Dulaney cannot travel the world to recruit international talent. She relies heavily on connections she’s made.
“You make bonds, and you trust people. You find out it’s a pretty small world,” Dulaney says.
Dulaney recruited her first European player this year in setter Ailin Donati from Rome, Italy.
“There is a [contact] who played Division I volleyball who keeps track of players including stats,” Dulaney says. “I watched film on Ailin and I really liked her attitude and work ethic. It’s unfortunate she got hurt.” Ailin tore her ACL earlier in the season.
Dulaney was also able to recruit two players from Sao Paolo, Brazil through a man named Caesar. Caesar is a former coach at Western Nebraska and now runs a volleyball clinic and recruiting service.
The players Dulaney recruited are outside hitters Mariana Pilon and SWAC Most Valuable Player Carol Grasso.
The connection is only the first part. Convincing the parents to send their daughters across the world into a new country is the next challenge.
“I spoke with Carol’s father quite a bit on the phone and via e-mail before [Carol] committed. I spoke with Ailin’s father a few times as well,” Dulaney says. “It’s a long way from home.”
Considering that both Grasso’s and Donati’s father are volleyball coaches, the parents needed assurance that not only will their child be put in a position to be successful athletically, but also that their child is looked after.
“I have to take care of them as well,” Dulaney says, “Sort of like a mom.”
Other parents, especially the ones that live locally have the good fortune of being able to travel to the games. Funding cuts affected the team’s ability to stream the games.
“It’s sad that our funding got cut because it’s amazing the parents that watch it [online], and since we hadn’t had it this year, they are so sad. I got a kid from Spokane [Wash.], one from Hawaii, two from Brazil and one from Italy [that] are farther away, but sometimes that is the only way they can connect,” says Dulaney.
What can be challenging for Coach Dulaney is maintaining the same competitive level year in and year out. Competing on a junior college level, the Bruins are given only 2 years of eligibility.
“This team will be different than next year’s team, because you are going to lose half your team,” Dulaney says.
This year’s team went undefeated in SWAC conference play. They are the SWAC Region 18 Tournament Champions and the No. 6 seed in the upcoming Division I Volleyball National Championship Nov. 21-23, 2013.
“I think you are always looking for the Super Bowl,” says Dulaney, who has been striving for a national championship before the season even started. “We took the season in four steps this year. The first step was preseason, which we lost 3 out of our 6 total losses in the first weekend of the season. Second step was to win the conference, and to win the conference, you have to go undefeated.”
The team went 10 and 0.
“Third step was to win the region tournament. We definitely want to peak at the National Tournament,” says Dulaney. “We are happy to make the National Tournament, but we’re not done yet.”