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Eagle-Vail: With great thanks, Brian

EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” So Battle Mountain volleyball’s Brian Doyon is going off to coach at the college level, specifically as an assistant at the University of Utah.

The truth is that Doyon has been coaching college already, but at the high-school level for the six years he’s been at Battle Mountain.

Doyon brought a new attitude to girls sports at Battle Mountain, by and large, a much-needed one. It ruffled a lot of feathers early on in his tenure, and it helped turn around a program ” not just volleyball itself, but Huskies athletics.



He will never win a popularity contest ” that is simply not his style ” but as Doyon heads to Utah, he deserves praise and thanks from his players ” both current and former ” and from the Huskies community.

Mr. Happy Fun Guy



One of the many interesting things about Title IX is that it requires equal opportunities for male and female athletes. That having been said, you can’t coach ladies the same way you coach guys.

And that was Doyon’s challenge when he got here in the fall of 2003. He was a completely different kind of coach. For starters, he did not accept the concept all-too-present in Eagle-Vail which was, “Geez, they tried hard and they still got killed. Too bad. Good job, ladies.”

Remember at the time, Rob Parish’s cross country team was just starting to emerge from the darkness of moving up to 4A and David Cope had yet to take over girls’ soccer. Doyon demanded winning from his players, and in this instance, they happened to be high-school girls.



And that absolutely infuriated people, especially some families who severely overestimated the talent of their children who happened to be on the team at the time.

Doyon’s lasting legacy in most people’s mind will be the 2006 state-title team. The scary thing is that he almost never got there. By not accepting the same-old, same-old from his players, a few parents wanted to run the coach out of town and nearly got their wish when he was suspended in 2004 before his team competed at districts.

(If this is sounding familiar to some in the basketball community, well …)

Doyon would have been totally justified in throwing up his hands in disgust and leaving Battle Mountain volleyball to wallow in mediocrity. Instead, he endured and brought the Huskies to their greatest heights.

Glory

The 2004 suspension overshadowed the fact that the Huskies actually had a winning record (12-10) for the first time since 1998. The Huskies opened 2005 ranked No. 5 in the state. I thought the late “Rocky Mountain News” was out of it gourd, putting Battle Mountain that high.

As it turns out, the Rocky was indeed wrong. Battle Mountain made the Final Four down in Denver with then-juniors like Crystin Rodrick, Britney Brown, Sofia Lindroth and Nicole Penwill and so on.

Turns out that hard work from some albeit extremely-talented kids was a good idea.

Ironically, Doyon’s perceived harsh manner was most-needed in 2006 when all these ladies became seniors. They could have swept back to state with blinders on, but Doyon demanded excellence each and every day.

He got it out of that team. While the Huskies played at a different level all season, it was so apparent at state. The memorable game at the Coliseum was against Sterling, the defending state champs. But remember, that game ended pool play. Battle Mountain still had Cheyenne Mountain and Mountain View in the semifinals and finals, respectively.

They made those teams ” really good teams ” look like run-of-the-mill regular-season opponents. Yes, it helps to have great talent ” and there’s no disputing the talent on that squad ” but it needs to be developed with a singleness of purpose. Doyon did that.

Success through change

While I appreciate a coach who expects excellence, I also like to see a coach adapt. And Doyon did.

Going back to the paradox of Title IX, Doyon, known for his salty language early in his tenure, adjusted his tone.

He also changed his approach to players. What do you do as a coach after a 30-1 season, a state title and producing two All-Americans? That isn’t easy, and it was admittedly a turbulent year. Doyon probably pushed that 2007 squad too hard, though it won 20-plus games and returned to state.

Remember that coaches are learning too, and Doyon did. Last season, he properly lowered expectations, changing his interactions with his players and me.

He also was a major advocate of the student-athlete concept. If I had a nickel for every time he said to me, “Student comes first in student-athlete,” I’d be living on a nice golf course in Florida. His teams performed well on the court and in the class room, producing a myriad of young ladies who can play and work at college.

Combine all these factors and Doyon’s legacy is greater than the state-title trophy that sits proudly outside the gym in Eagle-Vail and why Utah is luck to be getting an experienced college coach.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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