Ben Hardy and David Beard headline the list of former champion players giving back to the sport as coaches at the Australian Junior Volleyball Championships at the AIS in Canberra.
Ben is coaching the ACT boys under 14 team, a side which includes his son 13 year old Owen; while David is an assistant coach with the NSW under 19 boys, his son Jesse is playing in the NSW under 17 years team.
Both Ben and David are former captains of the national team. Ben playing 420 games for Australia and David played 368. Both men representing Australia at two Olympics.
David says he went cold turkey from volleyball for a while after retiring. He is now back into the sport, not only as a coach, but also as the father of four children, all of who play volleyball. Now working as a physical education teacher in Port Macquarie, David says he worked hard to get the sport going at the school. The results have been remarkable, ”I had ten kids keen to play. I took them to the state trials. Seven made teams while another two were named as reserves.”
He says it’s been incredibly satisfying, “This is my first year and it has been an enjoyable challenge.”
Ben’s route to coaching at the AJVC has been a little different after leading the Canberra Heat to the national title after retiring from Australian duties.
Ben coached the ACT under 15 girls team last year. This year he is in charge of the ACT under 14 boys side. He concedes it has been a learning process for all involved, “You need to have patience when mistakes are made,” said Ben; “The kids don’t know a lot of the rules so it requires a different level of patience. It’s been really exciting coaching a young and active group. They are so energetic and just want to try new things.“
Now both 45 years of age and their days as elite players well behind them, both David and Ben are inspiring the next crop of young player coming through the AJVC, a tournament, which for many years has been the platform for numerous current top-level players.
There is also the camaraderie that comes with being former team mates now involved in coaching at a junior level, reliving stories of the past and guiding the next generation.