With a 16-3 overall record and an undefeated record in the Colonial Athletic Association (6-0) thus far in the season, the JMU women’s volleyball team has seen recent success.
One contributing factor to that is the Dukes’ coaching staff. Head coach Lauren Steinbrecher and husband Casey Steinbrecher, who is the assistant head coach, have been working side by side at JMU for six seasons now. Their chemistry as a married couple since May 2010 is an undeniable force that looks to both motivate the team and establish comprehensive game plans.
“Casey is more of our defensive coach and Lauren, since she’s the head coach, is more overall,” senior outside hitter Meghan Niski said. “Casey’s more specific on skills whereas Lauren is more of the motivator and more general.”
The Dukes feel as though they have an advantage over other teams based on the easy compromise and collective strategies that both coaches have developed over the years.
“Their views aren’t really different and their opinions aren’t really different,” senior setter Sarah Patterson said. “Since they’re married and have a really good relationship off the court as well, they can make compromises easier and come together with a collaborative game plan.”
Lauren and Casey have come to work out most of the kinks in their unique coaching dynamic. As the assistant head coach, Casey has established his role both on the court and in relation to his wife as the head coach.
“I’m able to say things that a lot [of] other assistants wouldn’t be able to say,” Casey said. “I think it’s good in the aspect that it gives us healthy conflict. It’s the chance to challenge ideas.”
The players also acknowledge the different roles Lauren and Casey occupy in terms of coaching toward victory.
“Lauren does a great job of knowing what we need to work on as far as statistics go,” Niski said. “For example, we’re coming back from a weekend where our defense statistics weren’t that good so she knows that Casey is going to implement more during practice.”
As far as JMU’s success this year, Lauren credits strong leaders in addition to a variety of talented players.
“I think our leadership is really good,” Lauren said. “Across the board we have a lot of really good people who are committed and driven, and working hard combined with talent, especially in key positions.”
In the immediate future, Lauren and Casey plan to keep working together at JMU, though juggling stressful jobs with a two-year-old son remains an obstacle that the couple has had to overcome.
“Who knows what the future holds?” Lauren said. “We have a two-year-old so I’m not sure that this is a forever thing, but as long as it keeps working we’re going to keep doing it.”
The idea of working standard eight-hour office jobs has crossed both Lauren and Casey’s minds, but the couple knows they are in the right field.
“If we were in different jobs, it would be a little more normal,” Casey said.
But Lauren and Casey acknowledge that the benefits always outweigh the commitment.
“It is hard when you’re together all the time, especially in a high-stress job that we have where your success lies in the hands of 18 to 21-year-olds,” Lauren said. “But it’s also an extremely rewarding job.”
JMU will hope to remain undefeated in the CAA as it faces the College of Charleston at 7 p.m. on Friday in Charleston, South Carolina.
Contact Meghan Malloy at email@example.com.