By Kaytlyn Poberznick
A familiar name is returning to NAIT’s coaching staff. Erminia Russo Thorpe is continuing her journey with the women’s volleyball team after having spent nine years away from the game.
The former Olympian had success coaching the women’s volleyball team from 2010 to 2012 before moving out to Montreal with her family. After the stars aligned with her return to Edmonton and the head coach position opening up, Russo Thorpe dove back into the position and is ready to get back on the court.
“I really wanted to get back to coaching and I wanted to particularly go back to a place that I had been before and felt really comfortable [with] and had a really good experience with,” said Russo Thorpe.
Even though Russo Thorpe has been away from coaching for almost a decade, the game she loves hasn’t changed much and her coaching strategies coming into next season won’t be altered either. “There’s no doubt in the women’s game that the women have gotten taller, bigger, and stronger, but I think really my mindset going into it is ‘I will coach as I coached before’,” said Russo Thorpe. “You commit to what you’re doing, and you work at it, and every day you get into the gym is a new day to get better.”
Coaching for Russo Thorpe is more than just making plays and training athletes. She loves watching her players grow and take on new experiences head-on.
“I love seeing a player come in at one level and then over a season or two seasons or whatever it may be, seeing the development they have and the pride they have in that,” said Russo Thorpe.
Building connections with her players and having those tight-knit relationships on and off the court has played a major role in her experience as a coach. “For me, those are valuable because even now players that I coached 20 years ago I’m still in touch with so that to me is a really important part of coaching.”
With a new mix of players and a tentative schedule, Russo Thorpe can only hope that her team is up for a challenge no matter what the circumstances are. “Even though there’s frustration, and everyone [is] sick of everything, can you be that person that is resilient and continues to work hard and set a goal for yourself, and try to get that goal?”
Russo Thorpe’s main area of attention over the off-season is to get the team straightened out and figure out what type of recruitment needs to happen.“I’d love to get into the gym, but if not, we’ll just try to do some training no matter what it is, whether it’s strength and conditioning, physical training, getting outside, just touching a ball, so when we start we’re ready to go.”
“We’re not going to be perfectly volleyball ready, but can you be physically ready and mindset ready.” With a winning attitude, the Women’s Volleyball team has a good-looking future ahead of them.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I have to admit. It was a really nice surprise to come back and see that the position was open and I’m really excited to get back on the court. There’s no question about that.”