Coach Liz Sellers on Athletics and Leadership

Liz Sellers is in her third season as EKU’s Assistant Volleyball Coach, a position she took on after returning to EKU’s volleyball program after having been a stand-out performer on the team during her time as a student at Eastern. As a student, Sellers provided clear leadership, earned a number of honors from the OVC, and her positions on the teams records list will make you do a double take (seriously…check it out!). Coach Sellers answered our questions about her continued leadership on the team, and about how she views the relationship between athletics and leadership more generally.

Looking back on your experience as a student athlete at Eastern, what impact has playing team sports had on you?

Volleyball and sports have been a positive impact on me for my whole life. Specifically, playing volleyball at EKU taught me and my teammates such valuable lessons that would have been learned nowhere else. My success here as an athlete and the life lessons I learned at EKU and through playing volleyball are invaluable. 


Were there any role strong models or mentors that impacted your experience at Eastern?

My coaches were strong role models for me as well as my teammates and friends at EKU. My parents were extremely strong role models for me. Support and love can get you so far, and that is what my parents gave me. They were and still are the biggest role models in my life. 


How do you think participation in athletics benefits students when they’re off the court?

Again, there are is a limitless amount of life lessons to be learned in sports that just can’t be obtained anywhere else. That is why I have always loved it, and have now chosen a career in athletics. I think leadership, teamwork, and fighting through tough situations in order to be successful not just for yourself, but for the people around you, are lessons that benefit student athletes their entire lives, even after their years of playing.  


From you experience in coaching volleyball, what sort of relationship do you see between team sports and leadership skills?

Leadership and teamwork go hand and hand, and volleyball is a perfect area to gain that experience. As a coach, I am lucky to have to opportunity to teach leadership skills, to guide people through tough times, and to work together so they can utilize those skills later in life. In my opinion, being selfless and thinking about others is one of the hardest but most important things in life. To obtain these types of experiences at a young age while being an athlete, again is one of the best life lessons you can learn. As a coach, I am lucky to have the opportunity to teach this. 


Over the course of a season, what kinds of changes do you see in the dynamics of leadership on the team?


It always depends on the personalities of the team. Often times, leadership can be consistent – and that is when a program is really successful. Other times, it is inconsistent and a season can go up and down, but that is part of the learning process for athletes to grow into leaders and figure the process out. I think there are some athletes out there that are natural born leaders and programs are very lucky to find them! Other times, throughout the season, young people learn and grow from experiences and try to find a way to lead in a form that best fits their personality. 


In your opinion, what does it take to be a great coach? 

In my opinion, a great coach coaches for the right reasons. And those reasons are to have an impact on an athlete’s life on and off the field of play. I have had many experiences with a variety of coaches, and the best ones have a positive influence on an athlete for his or her whole life. Although they are VERY important, the game is so much more about winning and fundamentals; being able to teach life lessons throughout the process is what makes a great coach.

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Categories: Alumni Spotlight, The University

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