Winning nine state titles and 646 games over a 22-season career, Mike Tyree retired from the Borgia head coaching job as a legend.
On Tuesday, the school announced the hiring of its new girls volleyball head coach, Brad Bruns, who already has an impressive record as a college and club coach.
“I’m really excited to be coaching again,” Bruns said. “I took a year off and really missed it a lot. You don’t realize how much you’re missing something until you’re not doing it any longer. I’m really excited to be coaching at Borgia. It’s nice to go back to a program I greatly respect and loved coaching with before. It’s come full circle.
Bruns has history with Borgia. He was an assistant there in 2004 and 2005 under Tyree, helping the team win its ninth, and most recent, Class 3 state title in 2005.
“I do want to thank George Wingbermuehle and Kurt Russell for working with me and my schedule and making this happen,” Bruns said. “It was offered several times and I reluctantly turned it down. They are passionate about the sport as well. I think their passion helped to feed my passion to come back and coach in the sport again.”
Bruns first met with prospective players Tuesday afternoon.
“I have a lot of respect for Mike Tyree and John Nieder (Borgia’s last two girls volleyball head coaches. Nieder is the boys volleyball head coach). “I am not guaranteeing anything, but the girls will work hard, enjoy the game and be one unit. Success will be determined by how hard they want to work. At the meeting Tuesday, I saw a lot of smiles. I think good things will happen.”
Bruns’ last head coaching job was with the East Central College Falcons. He restarted that team before the 2007 season. In four years there, Bruns led the program to a 118-57 record (.674 winning percentage) and three consecutive NJCAA Division II District O titles. The Falcons placed 11th once and 13th twice in the national tournament (the only times ECC volleyball has advanced to the national tournament) while being ranked as high as fourth in the national poll.
The 2010 Falcons posted the a 37-9 record while going undefeated in the Midwest Community College Athletic Conference, winning the title.
Citing a desire to spend more time with his family, Bruns stepped down from the ECC position in the spring of 2011.
“When I retired to spend more time with my family as well as my current position with the college, it was not feasible to keep coaching there to sacrifice my full-time employment,” Bruns said. “To coach college successfully, it’s a 40 hour a week job. High school is a part-time job. I plan on giving my all to the program, but it’s not as intense as college. You don’t travel as much, your season is shorter, your practice time is shorter. I’m giving this the same intensity, but the amount of hours is not the same as in college. In college, you have recruiting on the front side and back side as well. There just is a lot more flexibility with the high school schedule. The travel and playing 45-50 best-of-five matches in a season takes its toll. Being away from my family with the travels hurt.”
In addition to his college and high school coaching experience, Bruns has been a longtime club volleyball coach. He was technical director for the Rockwood Thunder club, one of the largest in the St. Louis area, before starting Show Me Volleyball Academy along with Shane Allen for the 2012 season. The SMVA 15 Elite (the only team in the program this season) won the USA Volleyball Gateway Region championship last weekend in Kirkwood.
“I kind of went a different route,” Bruns said. “I’ve always had great respect for Borgia volleyball, the tradition and everything involved with the program. Everything about Borgia in the past has been a great experience. I’m looking forward to the opportunity that was given to me by the administration to do what I think I do best, coach.”
At Borgia, Bruns inherits a program which reached the MSHSAA Class 3 sectional level last season, losing to eventual Class 3 state champion Villa Duchesne.
Borgia graduated two players from last year’s team, Baylor recruit Kristina Fitzpatrick and libero Bryggen Korte, from last year’s 20-11-3 team.
From there, everyone else within the program last season is eligible to come back.
Taylor Mentz, Hanna Glastetter and Katie Lindemann each had more than 100 kills last season. Janie Arand led the team in assists. Sarah Geatley and Glastetter ranked first and third on the team in blocks. Molly Arand and Clara Blatt are the top two returners in digs. The Arand sisters and Blatt are the top returners in aces.
“I think we have a lot of potential there with what we have coming back along with some of the newer players in the program,” said Bruns. “The one thing I’m adamant about is consistency throughout the program at the varsity, junior varsity and freshman levels. That’s one thing I’m pushing for, to make sure we’re training the same way at all three levels. That way, at any given time there isn’t any huge change or switch in techniques or strategies.”
Exactly what changes will take place remain to be seen.
“Hard work and sacrifice by the girls is what makes the program successful,” Bruns said. “I can give them the tools and teach them how to do things. But when they’re on the court, it’s pretty much up to them.”
At ECC, Bruns instituted a fast offense which moved the ball from pin to pin. The teams he coached at ECC were known for aggressive serving as well. He indicated Borgia’s offense will speed up as well. Bruns feels that will help the players who wish to play beyond high school adjust to make an easier transition to college ball.
“I know it’s a high school program and I come from college,” Bruns said. “This is a college preparatory school. I’m going to train a lot of the ways I train in college. I think the girls can handle it. The speed is something we’re looking at. We’re going to run a faster offense. If I can teach the girls how to do it correctly and fundamentally sound, I don’t think they’re going to have any problem staying in tune. The more they can run it in high school, the more prepared the ones who want to move on are going to be for college.”
Bruns feels it’s a natural fit for him to re-enter the coaching ranks.
“I think it’s going to be a great fit,” Bruns said. “I’m excited about it. I hope the parents and the players are going to be excited as well. I love the sport. I don’t do anything halfway. It’s all-in usually for me. I’m looking to see what we can achieve as a program.”