Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Profile: Matt Helm

Position: Head volleyball coach

Coach Matt Helm. Photo by Charlie Li.

Before coming to Whitman, Coach Helm led Molokai High School to four Maui Interscholastic League titles, six consecutive state tournament appearances and the 2010 Hawaii Division state championship. Coach Helm and his wife Erika have four children: daughter Noelani (10) and sons Kahili (12), Kahiau (six) and Makaio (one).

What made you decide to take the job here at Whitman?

Coach Helm: Well, first, applying to a college coaching position is something I’ve always dreamed about. Secondly, coming from a DIII program myself––I played at University of La Verne––I understand the student athlete concept very well and that’s part of my philosophy here at Whitman. And obviously researching Whitman and the excellent academic reputation that it has, why not? Why not take this job? I love the facilities, great people––and I was born here in Washington.

Was it hard uprooting you and your family from Hawaii?

Coach Helm: They were excited. Obviously, uprooting your family from one lifestyle to the next is tough. Change is always hard, but I feel it is also necessary for growth. Where I am from in Hawaii is not the Hawaii that everyone pictures. My island was very small, only about 7,000 people, but it’s similar to Walla Walla in that it’s a rural community.

How have the first few practices gone so far?

Coach Helm: We’ve been going full force; I think within the first five days of practice we had got in 15 total practices. The girls’ progress from the start to where they are now is phenomenal. I am seeing excellent growth, buying into the philosophy and effort. The girls really want to be good. We’re holding a very high standard because it is something we have all agreed upon. I’m really excited to see how we carry these great practices into game situations.

How would you describe your coaching style?

Coach Helm: I like my athletes to be athletes. I don’t like to micromanage. If you’re a player, I give options and they execute. That’s my philosophy. Everything is a classroom; when we’re in the gym we’re teaching, we’re educating, we’re learning about life. We take  things that happen inside practice or what’s going on in the world and we apply it to what we are trying to accomplish in the gym. I try to teach life in the context of competitive volleyball.

Is the team pretty excited to travel to Chicago and begin their season?

Coach Helm: From what they tell me, they seem very excited. I think we are confident and anxious to play games and find out where we are in building our new culture. Also, no one has ever been to Chicago––including myself––so it’s going to be a brand new world for all of us.

What are your goals this year from a wins and losses standpoint, as well as goals beyond that?

Coach Helm: I want our seniors to have a great experience this year. As far as team goals, we want to come out on top. Why else do we play? We don’t play for second, third or fourth; we play to win. That’s the way we train, to be champions. As far as bigger goals, we want to start creating a culture here that exudes success. We want successful student athletes that excel both in the classroom and on the court.


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