Coaching spotlight: Prentice Lewis

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Coach Lewis brings her competitive drive into the Division III arena as she prepares to lead the Lady Crusaders to victory. Photo by Paulina Martin.

Prentice Lewis has had a lifetime filled with volleyball.

As an undergraduate, she attended Long Beach State University, where she helped the 49ers attend three NCAA Tournaments and take home the championship in 1993. She was the assistant coach for University of California at Irvine (1996-99), University of Oregon (1999-00), and the University of Florida (2000-02), and she was the head coach at Texas Christian University (TCU) from 2002 until 2013.

After coaching at Midlothian High School for one year, Coach Lewis was named the 16th head coach for the Lady Crusaders in early 2016.

TF: Your previous collegiate coaching job was at the Division I school, TCU. What kind of strategies for success are you planning on bringing with you to help the Lady Crusaders?

CL: My main thing is being very competitive. I have a big competitive drive and usually my teams learn to [have] the same thing.

I [also pay] huge attention to detail. We scrimmaged on Friday and we played a team where their shortest player was 5-foot-10 and that was their libero. I knew that they were going to be fast, but watching video and seeing how my athletes were not lining up on blockers, not in ready position, which are all things we have already discussed in practice, [was frustrating]. I am an x’s and o’s kind of coach.

I like to push my athletes to strive to better themselves. Every kid is different and I use different motivational things for each kid.

TF: For the last year, you were coaching at the high school level at Midlothian High School. Why did you decide to return to coaching at the collegiate level?

CL: [In] DI coaching you are gone every weekend recruiting. It was nice to be closer to home and in the area, which is why I took the high school job.

My entire adult life, I have been a DI coach — even right out of college — and I never got to do anything different. I thought trying the teaching and coaching thing would be an easy transition, like I would still get to do what I love but make some money teaching.

In reality, at the end of the day, I didn’t get to spend as much time coaching as I did teaching world geography. I love molding athletes and it is what I’m good at.

TF: You have had a successful coaching career in many different environments. However, this is your first time coaching at the DIII level. Do you foresee any changes to your style of coaching?

CL: The whole thing for me is that it’s not any different, because when I was coaching at the high school level last year, it [was] always student-first. I understand that and I have always worked for that because your athletes have to be eligible.

We also have a classroom policy here and unfortunately I inherited a schedule that only has five home matches. It’s going to be pretty rough, [but] I am not changing my will to make this team as good as they can be.

TF: You did not get to recruit the girls that are currently on your team. Were you able to meet with all of them before the season began?

CL: Most of the girls came to camp, and it was great because they got the chance to meet me. They got the chance to see a little bit of my personality and see the things that I do, whether it was ways of setting or arm swing. The kids that did come to camp are steps ahead of the freshmen, only because I was with them and got the chance to meet them.

TF: How do you like the University of Dallas so far?

CL: I love it. I know it’s hard because it is DIII. It is also not any different, because it is still a college coaching job. There are new obstacles to overcome, but for coaching, it is very important to have change, especially [with] how long I have been doing it. It just makes it a little bit reviving and exciting because it is something new and different.

Coach Lewis and the Lady Crusaders have a tough game schedule coming up this fall. The entire month of September is packed with away games and only five home games, all in October. With Lewis’ experience and the team’s hard work, the two can bring out the best in each other.

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