By Colin Froment and Armando Machado Jr. – 1851 Staff
New to the women’s volleyball assistant coaching position this year is Patrick Tom. What makes this so interesting is the head coach, Mary Tom, is his mother in her 19th season in the position.
Mary became head coach of the women’s volleyball in 1997, and immediately noticed the main problem with the program was inconsistency. As soon as Tom took over the program, change was evident as she took a 2-15 team to 15-2 in one year. After that season, she led the squad to back-to-back conference championships in 2000 and 2001. This season, the team worked hard to come together as a unit, and ultimately lost to Johnson & Wales in the GNAC quarterfinals.
The Toms come from a family deeply rooted in volleyball, immediate and extended. Mary played at Brandeis University while Patrick currently plays for the Boston Hurricanes, a nine-man Chinese volleyball team that competes in tournaments in North America.
While Patrick has little coaching experience, he has been exposed to volleyball his entire life and feeds off his mother’s coaching ability.
“[I have] been on the peripheral of my mother’s teams picking up her coaching tendencies,” Patrick said. He encourages the team to use the recent success of men’s volleyball, first time GNAC champions, and women’s soccer, six time GNAC champions, as motivation.
Both mother and son agree that there is a strong dynamic between them when coaching their players, and they share mutual respect for each other while on the court. Mary said, “[Patrick] feeds off of what are the better parts of my coaching and then adds his own into it, so the girls have come to love his practices more so than my practices sometimes.”
The two have different coaching styles, but they mix smoothly to form a well-balanced coaching team. “My style is more drill oriented and his is more position oriented,” says Mary. “This was the best year I’ve had in awhile.”
Patrick believes that he was able to provide a balance saying, “Mother and son teams might not work out, but in this case, it seems to work very well.”
The two coaches worked to inspire their players every practice and game this season. Mary tells her players frequently, “If I can still get to the ball, you can certainly get to the ball.”
She says, “[The players] have aspirations to keep playing for as long as they can, and that’s their goal. We have opened some doors to help them reach that goal.”
Both feel that their players inspire them. “It is possible that, in this school, students can do great things,” said Patrick.
They are both pleased to have the opportunity to coach together. “This is a good school,” says Patrick. “I really like the kids, the environment, the athletic center especially is changing and that’s an awesome direction that we’re going in.”
“I’ve come to love this school. I love what it represents and I don’t think I want to leave it. ‘In pursuit of great’ is truly remarkable,” said Mary.