Now 32 seasons and 600 wins into her career at The Rock, volleyball head coach Laurie Lokash does not see her milestone as just an achievement to highlight on her resume, but more of an accomplishment of the girls on the court.
“There is far more of what we do in athletics than count the number of wins for coaches,” Lokash said. “It doesn’t rank anywhere near what you see your kids do. That’s worth a whole lot more.”
Lokash said that her numbers don’t mean anything to her, the players do. She takes more enjoyment out of their achievements then her own.
Though an incredible feat in her career, Lokash said the win for the team was what got her excited. After undergoing a five game losing streak, one against Kutztown University (5-19) hours before the win, Lokash coached the Rock to a 3-0 (25-8, 25-16, 25-8) sweep over Cheyney University (2-19) in a PSAC Crossover last Friday.
This was also the first time the team defeated a team from the Eastern Division of the conference this season.
These wins don’t mean as much to her personal career as it does to seeing her athletes win because she got a chance to see success as a player already, Lokash said. While she notes she did not always see it this way, she said she wants her players to experience the same type of success as an athlete that she once did.
“The fact that they had a part in this is a nice memory and I will remember the team and the win,” Lokash said. “It’s more important for them as a team to think about it, than me think I have 600 wins.”
With a staff of former players in assistant coach Kaylee Smith and graduate assistant Janna Reilly , Lokash has formed a reputation with her players and colleagues the ex-athletes called a “player’s coach.”
“I was here when the program went through a lot of changes and went from three coaches to one,” Reilly said. “Anything that was thrown at her she could handle. She always puts the players first.”
Sitting back to back in an office across the hall from their former coach, Reilly, a setter from 2011-2014, and Smith, an outside hitter from 2008-2011, reminisce on their experiences playing under Coach Lokash. Smith said that this was the second Lokash milestone that she was a part of and it was awesome to be able to see them.
“I was here for her 500th win,” Smith said. “I think it’s awesome that I was here for the 500th and 600th wins. To her, she is going to be very modest, but 600 wins for any coaches shows the dedication and passion any coach has for the sport and program.”
Her reputation extends beyond her players to other staff members of the athletic department as well. Slippery Rock University athletic director Paul Lueken agrees that Lokash’s priority is the players. The effort she puts into them the girls give back on the court through hard work and dedication, giving her the opportunity to be able to win her 600th game, he said.
He said that while this a career highlighted win for Lokash, the girls are the ones on the court playing and it is up to them. She gives the opportunity for all of her girls to compete and win games, he said. While postseason hopes do not look to promising, Lueken said he sees potential from this win.
“Hopefully it’ll propel us into next season in a positive way,” Luken said. “With the new four divisions in volleyball next year and new scheduling format I think that open some doors hopefully for our program and her. We could make some progress.”
Lokash has more hope for the rest of the season. Her team has the potential and it is time to start showing it on the court she said.
“I think it’s time for us to step up and prove that we are a good team,” Lokash said.
Lokash said she aspires to win a championship in the future, but her team needs consistency first. Since her 600th career win, The Rock beat East Stroudsburg University and lost to West Chester University.
While a championship seems out of the question for Lokash to put next to her milestone win this season, she still has nine matches left in the season to prove that she has the good team that she said she does.