On this week's Meet the Coaches series, we're excited to introduce you to Dain Blanton, head beach volleyball coach at USC. Dain Blanton started his volleyball career at Pepperdine University where he was a NCAA Champion. After his career at Pepperdine, he went off to play professionally on the AVP and FIVB tour where he achieved 11 career wins and won the Olympic Gold medal in 2000. Not only did Dain have an amazing playing career, but he has also excelled as a coach, motivational public speaker, and broadcaster. I had the honor and great opportunity to be coached and mentored by him. He helped push me in practices and games and helped me see my full potential in college. This helped elevate my game mentally and physically and am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be coached by him.
Without further ado, please welcome Dain Blanton!
Tell us about your career path leading up to becoming a college coach.
I was a collegiate indoor player at Pepperdine (NCAA Champ). After college, I was an AVP and FIVB Pro for 14 years (11 Career Victories and Olympic Gold in 2000). I later went into Broadcasting (NBA, FIVB/AVP Tour), Public Speaking, Beach club coach (310 Beach Academy), and was an Assistant Coach at USC (2015-2018 3x National Champ). I am now serving as the head coach of the USC beach volleyball program.
How is COVID-19 impacting recruiting for you?
COVID has really made us look at our recruiting because all players that were unable to compete this Spring will now have another year of eligibility. With this knowledge, it puts a strain on the recruiting classes the next few years.
What are you most looking for in an athlete you are recruiting?
We are always looking for athletes with passion who want to reach their full potential and are willing to do what it takes to get there. It is a big jump from High School to a top Division 1 program and not everyone has what it takes. However, if you have the courage to test yourself and to push yourself to be your best as a player, then that is the type of player that we look for.
What are your expectations for your current athletes?
My expectations for our current athletes are for them to believe in themselves and their teammates. It is important that they are also willing to push outside their comfort zone. We want the team to be resilient, accountable, confident, have integrity and humility.
How would you describe your coaching style?
Direct and no nonsense. We work hard, but we also play hard and have a good time! We like to have an extremely positive environment.
What are the most common mistakes girls make when going through the recruiting process?
They get to invested in a program before they educate themselves about it. Make sure that the school you end up going to checks a lot of your boxes. Take a long hard look at coaching style and instruction, environment, and academic programs. Do not just go somewhere because you always thought that was your dream school. Make sure it works for YOU!
Best advice for someone going through the recruiting process? Best advice you have received?
Be open and take as many recruiting trips as you can and really ask current players at the schools that you desire what it is really like. Current players are your best resource for finding out what a program is really all about since they are already living it or have lived it.
Favorite books and/or podcasts?
So many books to read. I am currently reading the Talent Code and the Culture Code.