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Hallock joins Willamette as volleyball head coach

Jake Procino

Staff writer

While college sport competitions and practices have been suspended, preparation for the future continues. After 12-year volleyball head coach Tom Shoji retired in February, Willamette University began the hunt for a new head coach to lead the team. Willamette found its person on March 26 when the University hired former University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UW-L) volleyball head coach, Lily Hallock. 

While accepting the head coach decision was a career move, it was also a family decision for Hallock, who said, “Coaching at Willamette will allow me to stay close to family while pursuing the career that I love: coaching DIII volleyball.”

Hallock first got into volleyball at a very young age: “My parents played city league volleyball when I was young, and I wanted to play every sport I could. I started playing volleyball in third grade, the first year it was available.” 

Playing every sport she could led Hallock to her first coaching position. 

“The first sport that I coached was basketball. My high school basketball coach asked me to help run our youth camp when I was 18. That really solidified my desire to coach and I continued on coaching both volleyball and basketball after that.”

Hallock went on to play volleyball for four years at University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC). Hallock’s coaching career has taken her across the country. A year after graduating, Hallock continued her coaching path as an assistant volleyball coach at South Eugene High School before being hired as the assistant volleyball coach at UCSC. Hallock then served as assistant coach and interim coach for Smith College (in Massachusetts) before being hired as the head coach for UW-L. 

During her five year tenure at UW-L, Hallock was twice named Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Coach of the Year, and UW-L volleyball won two WIAC titles. In 2017, Hallock stepped down as head coach and moved back to her hometown Eugene with her family. She cited it as “a family decision” in a 2017 La Crosse Tribune article. 

When the position became available, Hallock jumped at the opportunity. 

“I was thrilled when the head coaching position opened at Willamette,” said Hallock. “It is a wonderful opportunity for me to coach at a university where student-athletes can excel on the court and in the classroom… Willamette University provides such great support for students and cultivates an environment where individuals feel comfortable being themselves. That is exactly the environment one wants for a team to be able to bond and grow.”

Unfortunately, with Willamette partially closing its campus and Oregon and other states implementing self-quarantines, it is a difficult time to become a new head coach. 

Hallock is still finding ways to connect with the team, saying: “It is really disappointing that we are unable to hold our spring practices. Those would have been an excellent opportunity for me and the team to get to know each other and start to make changes on the court. Instead, I am brainstorming ways to get to know the team and help them feel interconnected. I have had individual Zoom sessions with all the returners on the team to start the process. I look forward to finding more ways for us to connect with each other from around the world.”

Throughout the outbreak and once the team eventually returns to practice, Hallock hopes to develop “a team culture where everyone feels comfortable contributing to the leadership. So often teams label a select few as leaders while others are expected to follow.” 

Hallock believes she excels at coaching the technical and strategic aspects of the game. “I really enjoy analyzing film and finding how we can improve as a team and how we can take advantage of weaknesses of opposing teams,” she said, while admitting, “Sometimes I can get too caught up in making changes and improvements and I don't take adequate time to recognize successes.”

Hallock also feels her presence as a woman coach will have an impact on the team. 

“It's important for women to see other women in positions of leadership, whether they are leading men, women or co-ed groups,” she said.

With all this in mind, Hallock has goals for the end of the season: “When the season concludes I hope that all members of the program feel proud and happy of what we have accomplished."

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