Erin Virtue’s path to becoming the ultimate player’s coach

Erin Virtue’s route to bonding with the Michigan volleyball staff did not happen on the court docket.

In its place, it started off again in 2012 in Virtue’s Ann Arbor condominium living home all through a crew movie night. With her gamers piled on a Lovesac bean bag chair, the Wolverines got closer than at any time in the course of a time in which they put together a Remaining Four run in the NCAA Match — the very first in program historical past. 

Those people motion picture nights epitomize Virtue’s strategy to coaching, even back again where she was a recruiting and offensive coordinator in her first stint in Ann Arbor.

“She cares about you as a human being,” former Michigan player Lindsey Lerg informed The Michigan Day by day. “She’s gonna be there to assist you, to pick you up any time you’re down. … I believe it’s a very special issue.” 

Lerg was a stroll-on for Michigan in 2012 and explained she immediately felt welcomed by the coaching workers, particularly by Virtue. Despite Lerg, a Libero, playing a defensive posture and Advantage serving as the offensive coordinator, Virtue assisted her improve the two athletically and individually. As a outcome, Lerg felt that she grew to become a more aggressive individual and an even superior participant.

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Virtue’s progress into a player’s coach started out all the way back when she was a player herself. She was initial enamored with volleyball as a child. She also performed basketball, soccer and softball, but volleyball occupied a distinguished position in her mind all the time. She embraced the challenges of education and competing, and dreamed of playing in the Massive 10 and for the United States Women’s National Crew. 

Following graduating from Illinois, she experienced with the Nationwide Crew. Mission accomplished. Then she took it a single phase additional — she found herself coaching for it. 

“I enjoy the function that can be set into the sport and I like that I have so significantly a lot more to learn,” Advantage instructed The Day-to-day. “I assume that enthusiasm is far from likely out simply because there’s so significantly ahead of me to study and improve and be better at.”

Virtue’s success has spanned from her time as a player for the Illini to her quite a few assistant coaching stints 1st with Loyola Chicago, then at Cincinnati, later with Michigan and most not long ago at Northwestern. From earning an All-Huge Ten nod as a player to coordinating five straight top-20 recruiting lessons, she has attained prominence in the volleyball earth in various positions. But her most significant achievement is her Olympic gold medal. 

“She has a gold medal, and that is fairly immeasurable there,” Lerg mentioned. “So I imagine her accomplishments and her accolades converse for on their own.”

Those people accolades are confident to bring in consideration to Michigan. Not only has Virtue attained the most valued decoration in athletics, but she is very well-related in the entire world of volleyball. Serving as an assistant coach for Team United states of america volleyball considering the fact that 2018, she has worked with some of the best players in the entire world. 

“I sense like my job has just been a little bit of a snowball,” Advantage explained. “Just accumulating just about everywhere I have gone, I have just tried using to acquire one thing from that working experience.”

Virtue finds herself having numerous coaching tactics from her activities to concoct her very own. Her willingness to take in these tactics helps make her an priceless source to her workforce — and to her long run gamers.

“Erin has built a seriously significant-quality team and she’s leaning a ton on the information that she’s received from (Team) United states of america,” former Michigan participant Krystalyn Goode instructed The Daily. “So, there is truly no doubt in my intellect that she’s likely to be ready to create a championship culture and I’m just truly enthusiastic to see the Olympic-amount talent that she’s heading to be equipped to carry in Ann Arbor.”

Goode was an additional member of the 2012 staff, a freshman filling out a roster created up of majority underclassmen. That season, the staff was taught to embrace a development way of thinking as orchestrated by the coaching team. They took a one of a kind technique to that by reading a reserve — “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck. 

The advancement attitude is part of the snowball that keeps rolling for Advantage, and she has continued to employ it in her very first period as head coach at Michigan. Although winning is critical to the Wolverines, they position an emphasis on the method of advancement. These strategies are also employed and tested thriving by Group United states it’s a stage of coaching that sets Michigan aside from other programs and will make it an eye-catching location for incoming gamers. Getting the same coaching philosophy as the Countrywide Workforce, Virtue undoubtedly advertises it to opportunity recruits. Presently, the Wolverines are standing out with nevertheless another top-20 recruiting class for the approaching season. 

And it’s apparent that that perspective permeates by Michigan. Advantage sees her athletes improve no matter of the final result in the get-loss column. The crew is reminded practically just about every day to be in their most effective headspace and to nurture their minds.

Though crew growth is in the air that the Wolverines breathe, it’s Virtue’s selflessness as both of those a coach and man or woman that make them unique. 

At the beginning of the 2023 year, Advantage break up her time involving Michigan and Workforce United states of america, in pursuit of a different Olympic qualification. Her individual sacrifices allowed her to commit time to both equally packages. Even with journey, rigorous levels of competition and coaching on two staffs at the same time, Virtue remained a supportive presence for her gamers and fellow coaches in the course of a extend that resulted in a 2024 Olympic qualification, according to Team United states assistant mentor Tamari Miyashiro.

“I assume a person of the finest factors about the Workforce United states of america natural environment is that we signify some thing bigger than ourselves,” Miyashiro instructed The Day-to-day. “However, (Virtue) has generally exemplified this selflessness.” 

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Virtue’s inaugural season as Michigan head mentor didn’t go very as easily as she may possibly have hoped. In fact, it was the program’s worst report since 1990. But she is laying the basis to develop anything greater. 

Virtue would like to provide the Wolverines back again to the national phase, and recruiting has been the canvas that exemplifies how she will do it. With a distinctive combination of athletics and academics, Michigan has the methods to obtain Virtue’s recruiting vision. 

“We have a person of the ideal universities in the planet to recruit to, so that is a huge piece of the puzzle,” Advantage stated. “I consider that this is likely to be a place wherever it is heading to be ready to attract all those kinds of athletes that want to have a stepping stone to the rest of their everyday living.”

Virtue is enthusiastic at the prospect of mentoring the following technology of Wolverines and combining them with the next group of group captains. Escalating her players as folks is paramount to Virtue — ensuring that they are most effective suited to support in the enhancement of incoming players. She noticed this strategy show prosperous during her first spell at Michigan when it place with each other a string of winning seasons right after its Final Four physical appearance. 

Over a 10 years later, the roster construction of the 2024 Michigan team will seem eerily equivalent to that of the 2012 team, as the Wolverines will have to rely greatly on its youthful gamers. Advantage is now searching to recapture the exact magic that propelled her players 12 seasons back. 

Only time will explain to if Advantage and the Wolverines will be ready to flip the script just after a disappointing first season. But Michigan has the resources to make the outcomes it wishes in the coming seasons. A further remarkably rated recruiting interval combined with the experience that Advantage and her coaching personnel convey could restore the Wolverines’ standing atop Large 10 volleyball. 

The metaphorical window of playoff rivalry for Advantage and Co. may well just be starting up to crack open up if they can accrue and build talent consistently. No subject what transpires following period, it’s certain that Virtue’s passion for volleyball will continue on to snowball.

It was a very long, winding highway that led Virtue again to Michigan. Now it is only the commencing of her pursuit to etch her title into the history guides. 

Having said that, data never issue as a lot to her — personal enhancement does, and she’ll be the to start with to convey to you that. Remaining existing and being grounded resonates with the Wolverines, and they recognize that their expansion is a procedure. 

For Virtue, it is all about the procedure.