Heading into their second seasons with the program, Loyola women’s volleyball assistant coaches Dave Brown and Sondra Parys have been recognized as recipients of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Thirty Under 30 Award.
The award is an achievement that highlights up-and-coming coaches in men’s and women’s collegiate volleyball. Women’s volleyball head coach Amanda Berkley said the Thirty Under 30 Award is just one accomplishment for the two coaches and it speaks volumes to their experience and potential.
Brown, 29, won the award in 2018 shortly after he was hired at Loyola, while Parys, 28, was acknowledged in 2019 with one season at Loyola under her belt. Coming off of a 16-14 overall season, Parys was awarded despite a losing conference record of 8-10 in 2018.
After having previously worked with Berkley as an associate head coach at the University of Southern Mississippi, Brown said he transitioned seamlessly into his current position. Brown said it’s his familiarity with Berkley as a coach and as a person has helped Brown in scouting opposing teams and future players.
“[Berkley and I] are both from the same area and knowing each other and having that kind of relationship makes being on the same page a lot easier,” Brown said. “[Our previous work experience] helps with not only the on-the-court stuff but the off-the- court as well.”
Parys joined the Loyola staff after spending two years as an assistant coach at Queens University of Charlotte where the team made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. After helping lead the Ramblers to their first winning season since 2015, Parys said she aims to continue to improve off of last season. Leaving such a successful program was difficult for Parys, but she said the transition to Loyola has been nothing but a positive experience.
Berkley said Brown and Parys’ skills as scouts are instrumental to the program’s success, as Loyola seeks to progress. Their ability to put forth weekly reports on future prospects and opponents will continue to help the rebuilding Ramblers, according to Berkley.
“Both [assistant coaches] do a really nice job with interacting and getting to know recruits and showing what a great university this is,” Berkley said. “We’ve got some good quality coaches that are young, but up-and-coming.”
After winning the Thirty Under 30 Award in the spring, Parys said the award showcases the prestige of Loyola volleyball and the future potential within the program. Brown said he was honored to receive award and looks forward to adding future team accolades to his trophy shelf.
“I don’t really put too much stock into it but it’s nice to be recognized for something like that,” Brown said. “At the end of the day, awards are great but I want a banner and so I would gladly trade [the AVCA Thirty Under 30 Award] for a banner.”
Brown said Berkley took a risk on hiring him at Southern Mississippi and has served as a kind of teacher to him as he continues to improve at Loyola. With Brown and Berkley reunited at Loyola, Brown said they have been able to continue to grow and learn together.
“[Berkley] took a chance on me six years ago and it’s been a great working relationship and she’s not only my boss, she’s my friend,” Brown said. “She’s been a really great mentor and she’s taught me so much about this process.”
Parys said working alongside Berkley has helped her find a system that best works with week-to-week scouting of future players and opposing teams. She said the community of Loyola Athletics puts everyone involved in a position to succeed.
“I think Loyola is a place where you can win and you have all the right tools to do so,” Parys said. “[The coaching staff] gets along and we like and respect each other. … For the team to see [the coaching staff get along] they respect us that much more.”
Loyola are scheduled to continue their season Sept. 13 when they take on Virginia Tech in the Amy Svoboda Memorial Classic Tournament.