A New Direction

Southridge Volleyball looks to soar to new heights next season with the appointment of new head coach Matthew Coghlan.

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A New Direction

Kyle Pinnell

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The Southridge Girls Volleyball program is looking to reach new heights next fall after the recent appointment of new head coach Matthew Coghlan.

Coghlan grew up in Hilo, Hawaii and went on to play volleyball collegiately at New York University. He started his coaching career at the Under Armour Elite Volleyball Club in Maryland before moving to Wichita, Kansas where he currently coaches at the Shockwave Volleyball Academy. Right now he is trying to help his 17-1’s team qualify for the “Open Division” before he moves to the Pacific Northwest.

Coghlan reached out to Southridge Athletic Director Trisha Shoemaker for the first time last fall to inquire about the job knowing that the program was looking for a full-time head coach.

At first, Shoemaker had doubts that a coach of Coghlan’s caliber would want to take a job at a school like Southridge. After all, he was used to coaching elite club and college teams.

However, after calling some of his references, Shoemaker found out that Coghlan had turned down multiple offers from college programs because he wanted to take over a high school program.

When asked about what drew him to Southridge High School Coghlan cited the recent success of the program and the winning culture. He also knew that he wanted to coach in the Metro League. Just two years ago the varsity volleyball team won Metro and their first state title in school history.

“They’re in an interesting place right now,” Coghlan said. “I knew I wanted to coach in the Metro League. I knew it was the best and most competitive league there is, so that’s where I started. When I did have my sit-down with Trisha, to see the support that she has for the student-athletes and how passionate and invested she is in the programs, it just felt like a good fit.”

And with the program undergoing a rebuild, Shoemaker believes that Coghlan is the right man for the job.

“You have to have that energy to build and get down to the youth and get that going,” Shoemaker said. “I think that’s what he brings. An investment in the program and the energy to get Southridge excited about volleyball again.”

Coghlan will begin to work with some of the Southridge youth players this summer when he is scheduled to run a couple of volleyball camps.

What Coghlan sees is the potential for volleyball to continue to grow in the Portland area and he wants to be a part of that.

“I definitely think that Southridge and Portland, in general, have the physicality and talent,” he said. “I think it’s just implementing the systems to make sure that what we do in practice has the highest correlation to winning volleyball games.”

In Wichita, Coghlan learned a lot from Wichita State University head volleyball coach and 2017 National Coach of the Year, Chris Lamb. During the fall season, he would be in the gym to shadow Lamb and his program. Because of that conflict between the college and high school season, the Southridge position will be the first high school program that he takes on.

While Coghlan couldn’t disclose many specifics that he learned while shadowing Lamb, he brought up how he took a lot away from how Lamb runs his practices. At Wichita State, Lamb runs “efficient practices” where he works with up to 22 girls– the average amount of rostered players at that level is between 13 and 16– and he delegates a lot of the work to his staff as well to maximize the resources that the team has.

One of Coghlan’s goals at Southridge is to develop the types of efficient practices that Lamb runs. That includes combining multiple teams so that he can work with and develop more girls at one time.

“I want to be done with the days where I have my ten varsity girls and I don’t pay attention to anyone else in the gym,” Coghlan said. “I want it to be very collaborative amongst the entire coaching staff. I want the JV and varsity to practice together. I want to have these big team practices with a lot of reps and a lot of touches instead of having ten girls at one court playing hitting lines against no one.”

Some other goals that Coghlan has for the program include building a consistent team and competing to win both a state championship and Metro every year.

“I think a lot of times success will beget more success,” Coghlan said. “If we’re able to get people excited about Southridge volleyball, if we’re able to show some success in the things we’re doing, I think a lot of times you create a feedback loop where more talent wants to come to Southridge because they know it is a successful program. And then the program has more success because of that and it snowballs in the right direction.”

And these goals and ambitions that Coghlan has already laid out impressed Shoemaker. She considers the program fortunate to have landed a coach like Coghlan and hopes that the program will grow under him while he is at Southridge.

“Do I think he will be a high school coach forever, I don’t,” Shoemaker said. “He’s got so much ambition and love for volleyball which is really cool. I think that overflows to people around him and they get excited about volleyball, and that’s what we want.”

At the end of the day, what Coghlan wants to do is develop a higher set of standards for a team that reached the pinnacle of high school volleyball just two years ago.

“I’m looking forward to being able to run a program,” he said. “Being able to see that success return to Southridge and getting people excited about the program again, I think that will be a really exciting aspect about the job.”