Kyle Donen, head coach of the University of the Fraser Valley volleyball team, tells his players to take their places at the beginning of practice. Everyone in the gym is dressed in the greens, greys, whites and blacks of the Cascades athletic program. Donen explains he’s going to demonstrate forearm passing and calls for his assistant coach, Ian Perry, to stand on the other side of the net. Perry, captain of the UBC volleyball team for the last three seasons, wears a forest green t-shirt, emblazoned with the white UFV logo on his chest. The only thing that looks out of place in the gym are the bright blue Thunderbirds shorts Perry still wears.
Donen throws the ball up high over the net. The players watch Perry as he takes a stance and readies himself to receive the ball — practice begins.
Perry was asked by Donen to help coach the Cascades this season before the two had ever even met. The request was based solely on Perry’s career at UBC during which he lead the team to three straight Canada West final fours, represented Team Canada, was an academic all-Canadian and finished with the second most digs (preventing the ball from hitting the ground) in CIS history (only behind fellow Thunderbird, Blair Bann). But now that Perry’s CIS career has finished, what’s next?
“I never planned on coaching this year — that was totally out of the blue,” said Perry. The plan was to play professionally in Norway. After the 2014-15 season ended, the UBC coaching staff put Perry in contact with a Norwegian coach, who after watching Perry’s game tapes, offered the libero (a defensive player) spot on his team. But Perry chose to stay.
“It would have been an amazing experience to go over there and play,” said Perry. “But for me, it’s just not a career.” Had he gone pro, Perry would only have played for a few years and have had to work a coaching job on the side to make ends meet. So Perry decided to stay and make headway with a career he would eventually have to fall back on anyway.
Now Perry is working towards becoming a sports psychologist. He’d previously considered coaching volleyball, but Perry explained that there are no domestic pro-leagues and only a handful of paying jobs at the CIS level making job prospects pretty low. “That’s kind of why I went with the sports psychologist side of it,” said Perry.
As sports psychologists don’t tend to limit themselves to one sport, their potential client lists are enormous. In B.C. alone, there are thousands of high-level athletes competing at the college, university and professional levels.
Branching out to other sports is something Perry is familiar with. He was on the Yale Secondary basketball team that took the provincial title in 2008 and played on Yale’s Ultimate team too. During his summers growing up, Perry played soccer and baseball as well as later coached tennis. Add a varsity Thunderbird pedigree and Perry has pretty solid credentials to coach all manners of athletes on the mental side of their games. All that’s missing is a qualification.
To compliment his Bachelor’s of Kinesiology, Perry hopes to enrol in a graduate kinesiology program specializing in sports psychology at UBC next fall.
Between now and then though, Perry plans to travel — right now he’s in Europe with his family and aims to travel again in the spring to Southeast Asia. To help pay for that, Perry works for the City of Surrey’s Roads and Drainage department (another previous summer job) which he juggles with coaching at UFV.
But Perry’s playing days aren’t necessarily over. Perry regularly acts as a player in UFV practices and participates in recreation leagues filled with ex-university and college players. Both keep him ready should he want to return to organized volleyball.
“Some of the players who are playing pro are in their 30s, so it’s not like volleyball is a sport you have to be under 25 to play,” said Perry. “If something came up in the future and I really missed [playing], I definitely feel that I could go over and give it a shot.”
The article previously stated that libero was an offensive position. It has been corrected to a defensive position. The Ubyssey regrets this error.