Aug. 21, 2002
When Shelton Collier, the coach who put Georgia Tech volleyball on the map, announced his resignation last January, the team met with athletics director Dave Braine and had only one name in mind.
“We really wanted Bond to be our next coach,” said junior Kele Eveland, one of the team’s three captains. “[Braine] asked us questions about why we wanted him to be our coach. We told him that Bond has the best qualities for a coach, and we have a lot of respect for him.
“He knows how to motivate us. He’s got a great grasp of the concepts of volleyball, and that’s very important.”
And so the second-year assistant got the nod, moving to the helm of a program that has reached the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons. Shymansky inherits a team stocked with veteran talent, as well as several rising stars.
In a preseason poll, ACC coaches picked the Lady Jackets to finish third in the conference this season, putting plenty of pressure on the new coach.
“I say the expectations maybe aren’t high enough,” countered Shymansky. “I think finishing third for us would be an average year. I’m comfortable with that, because it gives us a great target.
“As a head coach, there’s always the pressure to win and build a successful program. I’m very fortunate to walk into a program that has steady support and a tradition of success.”
One advantage Shymansky enjoys is familiarity with the program, serving the past two seasons as the team’s defensive coordinator. His previous experience came in his home state of Iowa, where he coached on the high school and collegiate levels.
However, he faces the challenge of transitioning from an assistant coach to the man calling the shots.
“The past two years, I had a lot of training influence, but ultimately the buck stopped with the head coach,” he said. “So it was a lot easier in certain ways to push and pull for certain players.
“At first, I think it was challenging for the players to figure out if the change in responsibility was going to change my personality. Hopefully I’ve put them at ease enough so they know that my personality isn’t any different. The reason I got here was because of who I am, and I need to rely on that as one of my strengths.”
Shymansky has certainly instituted his own philosophies into the team’s approach, introducing a motto of “Success Today” in order to maintain focus on short-term objectives.
If the Lady Jackets achieve their goals during a given day’s practice or match, the elements of the bigger picture will fall into place, according to Shymansky.
So far, so good. Just a few practices into the preseason, Shymansky has been pleased with the response from his players.
Off the court, the 30-year-old head coach is still finding his bearings in his new position and realizing the overwhelming details of running a program.
“I would say the biggest change for me is the round-the-clock brain time that this takes,” he said. “I want to find balance between work and family life, but I’ll wake up at 2 in the morning thinking about volleyball stuff.”
And there’s the greater responsibility of being the team’s hand-picked choice.
“That kind of vote of confidence goes a long way,” said Shymansky. “On days where things aren’t going right, I think back to the confidence that the team has in me, and I want to return that to the team.”