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Ohio women's volleyball coach Deane Webb cheers during the final game of the MAC tournament, held in the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio, on Sunday, November 22, 2015.

Volleyball: Deane Webb builds his programs through family and community

Ohio coach Deane Webb is dedicated to keeping a family-like feeling for Ohio volleyball. So far, he's been successful.

Deane Webb walked off the court in Provo, Utah, last December with an all too familiar feeling.

After taking the first set in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Championships, Ohio had a chance to bury the heavily-favored No. 13 BYU Cougars, national runners up the previous year, in the second set.

The Bobcats drew within one numerous times late in the set, but were unable to give the fatal blow to the Cougars, who eventually defeated Ohio 3-1.

For Webb, coming just short of the NCAA Championships, or in that case, the second round, is nothing new.

But with the direction Ohio is headed under Webb’s leadership, it’s seemingly only a matter of time before the Bobcats break through to the Sweet 16 and beyond. 

And the way they’re getting there is a bit unconventional.

“As far as the team building, we just look at the team as an extension of my family,” Webb said. “About once a month, we have what we call ‘Open Sunday’ at our house. They’ll just hang out, some will eat and head back to study or whatever, some will just stay.”

He said he thinks of his players as his daughters, and even tells his players that he will not recruit them unless they can be role models for his daughters, who are 11 and 14.

“We average 2,200 fans per match, there are a lot of little girls that are out there watching,” Webb said. “They’re going to see you play. They’re going to see you over at Wal-Mart the next morning. They’re going to live life with you at least a little bit.”

There’s a stereotype that coaches scream and yell, and the coach is seen as a disciplinarian. But Webb does things a little differently.

His method of coaching has not only been a positive for the Bobcats, it’s been downright fantastic.

In just his two years at Ohio, Webb has led the Bobcats to a 48-14 record.

With his family-like atmosphere around the team, he’s created a sense of community throughout the team and its fans. The roots of which started at a young age, all the way back to his home state of Texas.

“My faith is a big part of my life, has been since I was very young,” Webb said. “One time when I was in my teen years, I thought I was going to go into the ministry full time. That was my plan when I was later in my teens, getting ready for college.”

It was then, through the help of a friend, that Webb got involved with volleyball, later turning his full attention to becoming a coach instead.

Starting at Indiana Wesleyan, and then through East Tennessee State and Belmont, Webb has a knack for turning around struggling teams, no matter how far they have to come from. 

At his first practice at Belmont, Webb took the floor to a court with seven volleyballs, just one volleyball cart that was missing a wheel, no lines on the court, and holes in the net. 

“They couldn’t just perform simple skills,' Webb said. "I remember calling my wife afterwards like, ‘I may have made a big mistake in coming here, no really, this is 14-year old volleyball.' There were some doubts at that point, but four years later we got it done.”

It was during that time at Belmont when Webb drew the attention of Ohio. He became coach at the end of February, 2014. 

Keeping with his family-first coaching-style throughout, Webb thinks he’s found his home in Athens.

“I think it goes back to when you’re in a college town, people just tend to be more together,” he said. “The things to do are more related to the university, so the community comes out for all the different sports. It’s just kind of the thing to do.”

It’s that kind of community that he was looking for, and the same type that he hopes to build his team with.

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Not only does Webb open his home to his team, he also gives away every championship ring he gets. With the exception of one, he has never put a title ring on his hand. 

“However many years from now, when I’m done with this, the wins and losses are nice, rings and trophies, but they’re not going to go on your gravestone,” he said. “It’s not going to say ‘Here lies a guy who went whatever wins and whatever losses.’ I’m not someone motivated by that.”


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