Good coaching is about developing a life long love of sport in people and in a commitment to seeing the quality and number of coaches grow in Northland, the Northern Advocate has teamed up with Sport Northland to publish a question-and-answer feature on one local coach per month.
The aim is to highlight coaches from an array of codes to give an insight into the nuances of coaching and the people who dedicate themselves to the discipline.
The fourth monthly coach profile is Suzy McAsey. As a former New Zealand representative in beach volleyball, McAsey has become a huge figure in the sport in Northland, promoting it our secondary schools.
Name: Suzy McAsey
Home town: Whangārei
Sport: Indoor and beach volleyball
Current coaching role: Kamo High School girls' volleyball coach, Whangārei Boys' High School junior volleyball coach, Whangārei Year 7/8 programme head as well as some private beach volleyball coaching
Current job: RPM instructor at Kensington Fitness Centre, private fitness coach, part-time
resource/library at Kamo Intermediate School, volunteer volleyball coach.
Favourite author: I have just read the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Much of his teachings are on living in the present – not the past or future, and I find this is especially pertinent in playing sport.
Favourite meal: Anything cooked by my husband Chris – he is a mean cook and part of the reason I married him!
What is your coaching experience?
I have been coaching on and off for about 15 years. I have been running a Year 7/8 volleyball programme at Kamo Intermediate for six years feeding these kids through to the local high school programmes.
At present, I am coaching at Kamo High School with my good friend and mentor Gavin Turketo. I am looking to set up a high performance squad next summer for beach volleyball, utilising the fantastic beach sand courts at Tikipunga High School.
What is your playing background?
Growing up in Northland, I was a super sporty kid and was fortunate my parents allowed me to give everything a go. I went on to represent Northland in four different sports - athletics, hockey, basketball and volleyball and was even drafted into the Northland touch team at one point as they needed a speedy winger.
New Zealand representative honours came when I concentrated on indoor volleyball and beach volleyball. Representing NZ at junior level in indoor volleyball and the NZ senior and masters level in beach.
How did you get into coaching?
Growing up in a family of sports coaches, it was just a natural progression. A small group of us involved with volleyball ended up coaching in different schools, I offered my services to Kamo High School as they hadn't had much girls' volleyball there for a while.
We now have strong coaches in a larger number of Whangārei high schools. The sport is growing rapidly and we are getting some great success both with participation numbers and NZ age group representatives.
What training/qualifications have you done?
When I left school I did a certificate in sport recreation and leisure at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, a programme aimed at allowing athletes to train while learning about the industry.
Why do you coach?
I coach to give back to the sport I love and also to get young women moving and enjoying the feeling of being part of something. Some of my best friends now are people I have experienced the highs and lows of sport with – it really binds you together.
Who has been the most influential person/coach in your life?
My parents, Roger and Sandra Easterbrook coached decades of rugby and netball players in Whangārei. They have given so much back to their sports and have been awesome role models for myself and my sister who coaches netball.
What has been your most memorable coaching experience?
A real highlight was helping coach a young Tikipunga High School beach volleyball pair that went on to represent New Zealand in Australia quite a few years ago. It reminded me that sport is a great leveller – these girls weren't from wealthy families and didn't have fancy gear.
We only had a couple of balls to train with but they spent hours on the sand, had awesome communication and went on to beat everybody in their age group in their NZ squad and Australia.
How has your coaching changed?
My coaching has changed as I have gained experience. In order to get the younger players to enjoy the sport it's a fine line between coaching drills and game time.
The younger ones need to "have a go" in a game situation as much as possible to get hooked. Becoming a mum and having two daughters definitely helped me understand kids a little better.
What is the future for young athletes?
I am hoping that in the future more young athletes will continue to play lots of sports and not specialise until later in their high school years. Coaches need to encourage this as using your body only in one way will led to injury and burn out.
I love to remind some parents that world champion kayaker Lisa Carrington never got in to a boat until she was 18 and Eliza McCartney didn't pick up a pole vault until she was 14 – she won a bronze at the Olympics four years later.
What is your top coaching tip?
This one comes from my husband who was a grinder for Team New Zealand and has competed in numerous America's Cups and it is "control the controllables". I often repeat this little mantra in my head.
You can not control what the opposition is going to do, but you can absolutely control what you do on your side of the net.