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A new era 

Photo Credit: Brockport Athletics

For the first time in 10 seasons, the women’s volleyball program will have a new head coach. Jim Clar was named head coach of the program after spending the past 11 seasons as the head volleyball coach at Hartwick College. 

“It’s very exciting. I’m really excited to get into the gym, see where our current players are at and about the opportunity of this program and where it can go. I think there’s a very bright future ahead of us,” Clar said.  

While Clar has had his eye on the team for a while, he grew up not far from the college and sees the familiar area as a big reason for joining the program.  

“My wife and I just had a kid. We have a five month old son and we’re excited about the opportunity to come home and be closer to family and friends,” Clar said. “The Brockport Athletic department as a whole and the volleyball team is very exciting for me. I’m looking forward to being in the SUNYAC, being a part of a great athletic department and getting to know the players that are on the team and see where we can take this.” 

Clar played at the Division I level for the University of Hawai’i before pursing a professional career in Holland and Germany. He is able to use his first hand knowledge and experience in his coaching. 

“I think it helps give a coach perspective on the challenges that players go through on a day to day basis. My biggest focus is always going to be on making sure my players have the best experience possible,” Clar said. “As a former player, a lot of times you can look back on your own career and kind of pick and choose who you are as a coach from a player’s perspective. So, I think for me, it’s just drawing back on my experiences on what it was like being a college athlete and how I can use that to help my current players have the best experience possible.” 

Not only has Clar coached at Hartwick College and made them a yearly playoff contender, he also coached for the USA volleyball team. Working with new athletes every year and getting to know them isn’t something Clar is unfamiliar with. 

“The truth is it takes time. I’m excited about going through the process of getting in the gym with them, getting to work, just slowly building that relationship with them and building that trust with them,” Clar said. “I’m not going to try and rush or force anything. We’re going to be doing things the right way and leading by example. I care about my coaching staff and players on a human level and [want to] ensure that they truly feel that I’ll be there for them and anything I can help their entire experience and not just as a volleyball player, but their entire student experience.” 

After coaching the same program for 11 seasons, leaving can be difficult. Having to come to a new program and start all over again is something Coach Clar has to deal with again. Clar has liked what he’s seen so far from the team, but he still realized it’s going to take some getting used to.  

“One of my big focuses is making this a smooth transition for all of the players and for the coaching staff that stayed on. So some of it’s just figuring out what they do well and what works and things like that,” Clar said.  

Brooklyn Sullivan is a senior on the volleyball team. This is not the first time she has experienced playing under a new coach, but going into her final year playing at Brockport, it is a transition she is ready for. 

“The team in the last three years has gotten to play under three different coaches. This upcoming season will be the 3rd with Coach Jim. It has been a lot of adjusting and I think that brought our team closer together. We find comfort in teammates, and I think that solidified a bond with this team,” Sullivan said.  

Sullivan is excited for the opportunity to play with being coached by Clar and has already taken advantage of some of his prior knowledge.  

“I look forward to seeing how much this team can still grow on the court under coach Jim. As with any coach, they have their own style. I am excited to see what his is like and how we can all learn from it,” Sullivan said. “I have been into the office to talk with coach and just to start to build on that relationship. The first interaction was very positive. We have a lot of personality on the team, and he was trying to take it all in and get to know all of us just as much as we wanted to get to know him.” 

For the past nine seasons the volleyball team was coached by Steven Pike. Pike now serves as the Assitant Athletic Director for Compliance and Student Development. Pike thinks Clar can continue the culture of winning.  

“We’re excited, very excited. I think that you can clearly see in his work and what he’s accomplished in his career that he’s found a way to have success and do it the right way,” Pike said.   

Thinking back on his own experiences as a coach at Brockport, Pike advises Clar to enjoy the experience. He belives it is a privilege and a once in a lifetime experience.  

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