Ed Andersson’s journey to landing the head coaching gig with an up-and-coming high school varsity volleyball program started with an innocent acceptance to becoming the team’s volunteer coach in the fall of 2006.
Tonopah Valley High School had opened the previous year, and its volleyball program lacked the resources and coaching it needed to succeed in the fast-paced high school landscape.
Andersson's daughter, then a freshman in the program, persuaded him to volunteer. At the time, the school’s physical education teacher was the head coach, holding no prior volleyball experience. He shrugged his shoulders and obliged, accepting his daughter’s plea.
Two years later that once-innocuous volunteer position parlayed into the head coaching role with the junior varsity team. An additional two years after that — in the fall of 2010 — he advanced once more, promoted as the head coach of the varsity team.
Upon his acceptance of the head coaching gig, Andersson took to campus with a new goal in mind. Gone were the days of voluntarily donating his afternoons to his daughter’s high school volleyball team. He oversaw the entire program now, and he took that to heart.
As the head coach of the Phoenix, Andersson has quietly transformed his school as a force in the 2A conference, one that has seen 11 players commit to playing collegiate volleyball since he joined the program, including four from just the class of 2019 alone.
Two more from this year’s graduating class were also being recruited, but decided against furthering their careers.
“I’m so proud of them by achieving their dreams and representing our program at these colleges with the highest degree,” Andersson said.
Club volleyball, Andersson reasoned, is far too expensive. Its cost is often a deterrent to aspiring players. So, in response, he created a summer program for his players. This was a way to get his players in the gym with more frequency, in lieu of the ghastly costs of a club team.
And the tireless summer hours his players logged, Andersson said, directly correlates to the success the program has enjoyed in recent seasons.
“They worked hard during our summer program and season. Their determination, commitment and loyalty to our program and playing the game earned them a spot on these college teams,” he said.
“Most of these players received full tuition. That’s what our program strives for — to teach our players about life after high school. We’re trying to teach them that hard work is not easy but will win over giving up; also, to get their college paid for with no — or as little as possible — student loan debt after they graduate with their degree.”
Coupled with his program becoming a newfound pipeline to the college volleyball scene — something Andersson takes great pride in — the Phoenix have also enjoyed considerable success under their long-tenured skipper.
They’ve made the postseason in three of the last four years, including a run to the state championship game in 2015.
Andersson understands his time with his players is short, and, in the grand scheme of things, volleyball is not the end-all-be-all in their lives.
While he has them, he wants to ensure he is doing all he can to put them in a position to succeed after high school.
And he’s excelled at doing so.
“I’m so proud of them by achieving their dreams and representing our program at these colleges with the highest degree,” he said.