Summer is anything but a vacation for Hudson Bates, the Men's Head Volleyball Coach at Marymount University. During August alone, he'll travel to Seattle, Los Angeles and Chicago to compete in pro beach volleyball tournaments – all while staying on top of his regular work and squeezing in recruiting trips wherever he goes.
|Coach Hudson Bates|
"It keeps me busy," Bates said. "I usually go from playing in a beach tournament over the weekend to recruiting at an indoor club tournament during the week."
His efforts have paid off. The Marymount program, entering its third season, continues to improve. And Bates continues to find success as a professional player.
In June, he won the Pottstown Rumble for the fourth-straight year. Bates enjoys the Pennsylvania tournament so much he scheduled his wedding around it five years ago. The 30- year-old feels "blessed every day" to be able to play and coach volleyball. He said his wife Jessica's support for his career has been amazing. The couple met while in high school in Richmond and now has a year-and-a-half-old daughter, Holloway.
Bates spent his first year of college at Long Beach State before returning to Virginia to play at George Mason University, where he starred from 2005-08. Following graduation, he began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant with his alma mater and spent two years training with the USA National Team. He also played professionally in Puerto Rico and Qatar. He's been part of the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball League for the past few years.
He said the outdoor game, with two players to a side, is less structured than the indoor game and requires athletes who are skilled at every aspect of the game.
"You also don't have five other players to hide behind," he added.
Bates, who is 6'5" and 240 pounds, no longer competes indoors because of knee and back pain.
"Now I like playing on the nice, soft sand," he said. That doesn't keep him from getting onto the court with his Marymount players.
"It's very inspiring to have a coach who can play so well," said junior Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz.
"We always talk about leading by example and Coach Bates always lives up to that rule. I have never seen him take days off either at the gym, court, or his office. If you see him around he's always working on something or helping others out."
In addition to pushing his game to a new level, Ksiazkiewicz said Bates has been supportive in other ways, whether that has meant helping the native of Poland settle into a new environment or offering life advice.
"It just motivates me to work harder for him on the court," said Ksiazkiewicz, who played high school volleyball in Illinois.
Bates was hired by Marymount a month before classes started in the fall of 2013. The program's first match was that January.
"We had to scramble to put a roster together from nothing," he said. "They called us the Bad News Bears. But I got hooked up with a couple of players. We found a few who were already here who had played in high school. We even had a few who had never played before."
The team ended up with a 9-20 record and finished fourth out of six teams in its conference.
"We still did better than a couple of teams," Bates said. "And we've come a long, long way since then. Last year was awesome. We brought in a strong recruiting class and made the conference playoffs."
That team went 14-20. Bates expects the Saints to do even better this year.
He's just as competitive on the sand.
Bates said he's the only AVP player who doesn't live in California, which can make it hard to find good competition to practice against. Before a recent tournament, his partner, David McKenzie, a member of the 2012 United States Olympic Team, came out a week early to practice with him.
"When you do finally accomplish something, it makes it that much more valuable," he said. "Getting those wins is just like a drug. It keeps you going back for more."
STORY COURTESY OF MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY