By RACHEL JACKSON/THE BAYONETApril 15, 2010
SGT Corey Shaffer said he has waited a long time to be where he is now - to be exact, it's been a nine-year wait.
The 30-year-old paralegal with the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate left April 7 for Fort Bragg, N.C., to participate in the All-Army men's and women's volleyball trial camp. He was selected as the head coach of the women's camp and All-Army team.
"This is a dream for me," he said. "This is something I have always wanted to do -coach a high level of volleyball."
When he joined the Army nearly nine years ago, he said he always wanted to participate in All-Army volleyball, but because of training and other assignments, he wasn't able to.
When he arrived Wednesday at Fort Bragg, Shaffer wasn't expecting to be asked to take over as the head coach. He filled out an application to play on the men's team and another to coach, he said, but was initially told he would play on the men's team and be the assistant coach of the women's team.
"It was bittersweet when I found out I would be coaching because I wanted to play, but I like coaching, too," Shaffer said.
Jerry Weydert, head coach of the men's All-Army volleyball team, selected Shaffer to be head coach when the former women's head coach had to step down due to another engagement.
"I chose coach Shaffer because he is enthusiastic about volleyball, has a good work ethic and has an extensive background in coaching," Weydert said. "The best coaches are ones who teach players how to become better players, and I saw that in him."
Shaffer said he likes playing, but he is better at coaching.
"I have a passion for volleyball," he said. "Anytime I see players who have a passion for volleyball, I get excited. If I can make someone a better player, I will be that much more excited about the sport."
Chris Akers, director and head coach of the Columbus Juniors Volleyball Club, who has worked with Shaffer for a year, said the selection of Shaffer was a good choice.
"I am excited for him," he said. "This is a big opportunity and he deserves it. He's dedicated and has a love for volleyball."
Shaffer has high expectations of the eight-member team, he said. And he expects 110 percent - no matter what.
A typical week at trial camp consists of five days of workouts, practice matches, and team and individual drills. On weekends, the team plays in scrimmage games.
Although players are usually cut during trial camp, Shaffer said he doesn't think he will cut any players because there are only eight.
Trial camp began April 7 and will run until May 2. The All-Army team will compete in the Armed Forces Championship from May 3-10 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. If the women's team wins the title, it will move on to the CISM, an international-level competition.
"The Army hasn't had a strong history in recent years in All-Army volleyball," Shaffer said.
"This year we are going to change that. Our goal is to win the Armed Forces Championship and bring home the gold medal for the Army."