By Shana Dry, USC Lancaster
Fernanda Burke and Darris Hassel have taken on the reins of USC Lancaster’s Lady Lancers volleyball team as coaches for the team’s inaugural season.
Coach Hassel taught a PEDU volleyball course on the Lancaster campus and also played in the U.S. Volleyball Association League for a while and in several local leagues as well. He began playing the sport competitively in 1995 with friends that were experienced players.
Coach Burke started playing volleyball in 1989 at age nine in Brazil where she played on her middle school traveling team for four years. When she moved to the U.S. in 1994, she made her high school varsity team as a freshman setter. She played as the starting setter for three seasons and led her team to two conference finals (1995 and 1996) and a rank of six in the state of Florida in 1995. Coach Burke went on to play at the collegiate level at Newberry College from 1998 to 2000 and at the University of Florida (club-level) in 2002.
Both Burke and Hassel led the USC Lancaster faculty and staff team to three intramural championship finals, where they remain undefeated.
Shana Dry sat down with Coaches Hassel and Burke to learn more about their service to students outside the classroom and what’s next for the Lady Lancers in the coming season.
SD: Why did you decide to coach the Lady Lancers volleyball team?
FB/DH: We consider ourselves as volleyball enthusiasts and have an intense love for the sport. Getting the opportunity to coach a team here at USCL is a much welcome opportunity for us to share our passion for the game and our experience with younger players. When asked, there was no hesitation on our part to be involved in making it happen.
SD: What did you learn in the inaugural season?
FB/DH: This first season has shown us that the basic fundamentals of the game (serving, passing, hitting) are key to any team’s success. Lacking any of them is a detriment to your team’s ability to compete and be successful. We also learned that there are many parallels to coaching the team and teaching students in the classroom. There must be a connection with your players (students) in order for them to receive what you are coaching (teaching) them to be able to apply on the court (in the lessons/activities). Finally, we learned that we were and can be a competitor in our division and that our opponents are learning that USCL volleyball is not to be taken lightly.
SD: What do you enjoy most about coaching?
FB/DH: This season we most enjoyed seeing our players compete and win. Practices showed us who they were as volleyball players. When playing games, we got a chance to see who they were in the face of their opponents. Our team brought together so many different skill levels and playing experiences. Yet, when combined and in good rhythm... we were powerful, athletic and successful.
SD: What are your plans for next season? How are you recruiting new players?
FB/DH: This coming season will be a new experience for us since we didn’t get a chance to recruit much at all for our first season. We are using the girls we had this season as a point of contact. Many of them have played with girls in club volleyball or high school volleyball and can serve as unofficial recruiters. We also are reaching out to area high school coaches for referrals. We have a recruitment form that is attached to our athletics website that has proven to lead some potential players our way as well. We know that our team has needs and recruiting players specifically for filling those needed areas will only enhance our ability to execute this coming season. Starting in our immediate area, but not limiting ourselves to just our immediate area will be key in our recruiting efforts for the upcoming season.