On the surface, coach Diane Flick’s volleyball team and coach Travis Connell’s soccer team don’t appear to have a lot in common. However, as the 2015 fall quarter came to a close they both had one important similarity.
While most Western students were wrapping up their finals, the Vikings volleyball and women’s soccer teams were putting the bow on top of their record setting seasons with both teams reaching the semi-finals of NCAA Division II national tournament for their respective sports.
The only real difference is how they got there.
Connell’s team came into the season with 16 upperclassmen. Flick’s team only had four. Connell’s team didn’t lose a single match at home during the regular season, enjoying their home field advantage on Robert S. Harrington Field, which opened in the fall of 2014. Flick’s team, on the other hand, was without a true home this season while Sam Carver Gymnasium undergoes renovations. This forced Flick and the volleyball team to have practices in the Wade King Student Recreation Center. Home matches were played at both Whatcom Community College and Squalicum High School.
“It was almost like having a classroom with open doors and everybody watching,” Flick said about practicing at the rec center. “We were undefeated on the road in conference… We actually had a better routine on the road.”
Despite these differences, the teams had several things in common, including experienced coaches.
Prior to the 2015 season, Connell had 157 wins through 12 seasons. Under Connell’s guidance the team has made four straight national tournament appearances. The team won 21 games this season, setting a school record. Over the last four years, the team has managed a record of 76-9-6. Connell has also been named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Coach of the Year three times.
Flick’s record has similar highlights. 2015 was her 16th season as Western’s head coach. Prior to this season, Flick had amassed an overall record of 317-85. During her tenure, the Vikings have had eleven seasons of 20-plus victories and she has been named the GNAC Coach of the Year eight times. With a record of 27-6, the volleyball team also broke its team record for wins in a season.
Despite all her success as a head coach, Flick doesn’t claim all the credit for the success of the program.
“I might get a lot of the stats under my name, but I’m definitely not the person who does it all,” Flick said. “I’m just lucky. I’m surrounded by great people.”
Connell echoed those sentiments. A lot of credit has to go to the players for their maturity and desire to always get better, he said.
“Everyone’s a leader,” Connell said of his team philosophy. “I think the seniors really bought into that.”