Coach Lokash reflects on her 35th season as volleyball head coach

Published by The Rocket, Author: Zach Bonnette - Senior Rocket Contributor, Date: November 19, 2018

Another season has come to an end for Coach Laurie Lokash and her Slippery Rock volleyball squad. The team finished with an overall record 11-16 and an 8-10 record in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, which were both improvements over last year’s team. The Rock showed flashes of greatness during the season while showing the ability to compete even with the best teams in the PSAC. The Green and White narrowly missed the playoffs and finished second in the PSAC Northwest division. 

After taking a look back at the season, Coach Lokash expressed her pleasure with the change of culture this season, which is a pivotal part in the foundation that she hopes will build a dominant program in the future. “One of the biggest things is that the players enjoyed this season much more due to the change in culture and I think they have a bit more confidence now as well, as the team brought their record in conference play last year from 3-13 to 8-10,” Lokash said. “We obviously have a lot of work to do still, but we’re heading in the right direction.” 

An invaluable asset of an athlete that is often overlooked is how well one can be coached and improve from constructive criticism, a stepping stone that allows a good player to become a great player. Coach Lokash saw the biggest change in the team’s mentality and willingness to be coached. “From the mental side of the game, the girls seemed to have thicker skin this year, the ability to take criticism and learn and improve from it,” Lokash said.  

Through all the team’s improvements, the Green and White will go through the inevitable process of losing their seniors in Beth Stumpf, Shayla Ray and Kelsey Boyle. It can be hard to replace the talent and leadership of the senior class, but Coach Lokash wants to make sure that each athlete is accountable for their actions and all can be leaders themselves. “We are trying to make it so everybody feels comfortable enough to correct each other, instead of just having one or two people to answer to,” Lokash said. To have an environment where teammates feel more like family than having to answer to someone who is seen as superior will go a long way in keeping the team well-coached while keeping the chemistry between the entire team strong. 

Although it is always hard to truly replace a senior’s place in a locker room, the team will return 17 of its 20 players for next season, resulting in an experienced team that is very familiar with each other. Despite returning one of the most experienced rosters in the PSAC in 2019, Coach Lokash recognizes that The Rock will still have their work cut out for them next year, as a tough schedule will get even harder next season. “The pod system is set to change for next season, as Clarion will be moving into our pod. Our life will not be any easier next year,” Lokash said. The schedule will certainly be tough, as the PSAC boasts some of the most competitive volleyball teams in all of Division II, but Coach Lokash is still hopeful in making a playoff push next season. 

“For the team, we need to take things day by day, develop our game during the offseason and potentially hit that goal of making the PSAC playoffs,” Lokash said. “It will not be easy, but we will try and find a way.”  

Each team’s story starts in the offseason and after a young Green and White squad exceeded expectations this season, there is little reason to not believe in a team that seems to become better by each passing day. It will certainly be exciting to see what The Rock brings to the table next season, as the future seems bright for this battle-tested squad.