Managing a successful Division I sports team is difficult enough when a coach is surrounded by an entire support staff. It’s even more difficult when a coach is on his own.
But Brian Baise, the man at the helm of Harvard’s men’s volleyball program and the Bob Sweeney EIVA Coach of the Year, has done more than just rise to that challenge. Baise has turned the program around and, in just his fourth year as coach, led his team to its most successful season in more than a decade.
Building profound respect amongst his players in those four years, Baise has come to be known for his reserved leadership from the sideline.
“He’s not the loudest coach I’ve ever had,” co-captain Matt Jones says. “He has a very precise and subtle style, but when you contrast that with an occasional outburst, it’s really effective communication for the team.”
“He doesn’t say a lot during games, but when he does, it makes an impact,” sophomore outside hitter Nick Madden adds.
And despite what Madden calls a “one-man coaching staff,” Baise has been able to help the Crimson gain a better understanding of its opponents, an important factor in the team’s relatively small EIVA conference.
“One thing he does super well is communicating to us about the teams we’re going to play,” Madden says. “He scouts them inside and out. He’s very meticulous with film. He’s a great game coach.”
But what really sets Baise apart at Harvard is the faith he has in his players to get the job done.
“He’s done a great job of toeing that line of when to trust us and build ourselves up and when he needs to step in and says we need to get better,” Jones says. “He balances team development as well as individual development—I give a lot of credit to him for where I am as a volleyball player.”
As this year’s Crimson seniors graduate, Baise will say goodbye to the class of players that have been with him since his start at Harvard, but Jones and his classmates are confident Baise’s influence on the program’s success will not slow down.
“I think [Baise] is getting better every year, which shows his dedication and desire to make this program better,” Jones says. “He’s not content, he’s not ambivalent, and he wants to see the program improve.”
—Staff writer Madeleine Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.