|Gale Lackey, head
women's volleyball coach, has coached at Wesleyan 29 years.
22 Years, 370 Wins and Counting
Q: How many years have you worked here, and how
many years here have you coached volleyball?
A: I think I have outlasted most of the coaches in NESCAC. This is my 29th
year at Wesleyan, and my 22nd term coaching the volleyball team.
Q: In your opinion, why is Volleyball so exciting to play and watch?
A: Volleyball is one of the most popular team sports in the world. It
requires efficient movement because, unlike many other popular team sports
in our country, it is a rebound sport not a possession sport. The movement
prior to the rebound contact is extremely important to one’s success. The
team aspect is also very unique, very dependent and very reciprocal. Lots of
fast scoring and dynamic, athletic and powerful movements on both offense
and defense make it a terrific spectator sport.
Q: The volleyball season began Sept. 8. What is your record and what have
been the highlights of the season so far?
A: As of Oct. 16, we are 13-6 and 4-3 in the NESCAC conference. Our highlight thus far was
defeating both Tufts and Amherst, two of the top teams in our conference, in
Q: Who are the stars of this year’s team?
A: We don’t like to single anyone out as a star. Statistically we do have
some conference leaders in a variety of categories. Lisa Drennan ‘09 leads
the conference in kills per game, Ellie Healy ’10 leads the conference in
assists per game and Becca Rodger ’08 leads the conference in aces per game.
We also have two top ten conference leaders for blocks in Allison Heaney ’09
and Caroline Rober ’08 and our lone senior Tory Molnar ’07 is a top ten
leader in digs.
Q: After coaching for more than three decades, do you ever get tired of
coaching? What keeps it interesting?
A: I have actually been coaching for 37 years, and no, I never get tired of
the actual practice and match coaching. The game of volleyball has evolved
over the years, like many sports, rules have been changed or been added, or
methods of scoring have changed. I have been challenged by these changes.
They have given me an opportunity to grow and to learn more. Embracing the
changes and being enthusiastic about them has kept it exciting and
interesting for me. Coaching is teaching with a competitive twist. My job as
a coach is to push and enhance the competitiveness of these young women. I
want them to improve every week we are together.
Q: You have more than 370 wins in your career. What is your goal?
A: Without question, I would love to be a part of 500-career wins, take a
NESCAC Championship or more and win a few more Little Three Championships
before I retire. But my real goals are more process-oriented, as they have
always been. I want to be consistent in what I expect from my players, to be
as prepared as possible so that I can perform as well as possible and to
continue to learn as much as I can from my players and the game.
Q: Who are your assistant coaches?
A: Joe Rouse and Bonnie Fineman. Joe is the Hedding Professor of Moral
Science, chair of the Science in Society program and professor of
philosophy. He’s been my assistant coach for 22 years and deserves a great
deal of credit for all of our successes over the years. Bonnie joined us in
2005. She was named Boys High School Volleyball Coach of the Year three
times by the New Haven Register and twice by the Connecticut Post. She is a
very talented young coach.
Q: Where did you begin your coaching career?
A: I coached volleyball at the University of Bridgeport for one year and at
Spring Grove High School in Pennsylvania for seven years.
Q: Where are your degrees from?
A: I have a bachelor’s of science and a master’s of education in health and
physical education from West Chester University in Pennsylvania.
Q: Where did you grow up and what brought you to Connecticut?
A: I grew up in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, a very small town in Southern York
County. I started playing competitive volleyball there at the age of 13. The
opportunity for college coaching happened to bring me to Connecticut.
Q: In 2001, your team had a best-ever 30-6 record and a first-ever
invitation to the NCAA Division III tournament. For this you were named the
2001 Coach of the Year. How did this make you feel?
A: The players on that team earned that record and the bid to the NCAA
Championship. Being honored by our NESCAC coaching peers was very
gratifying. That award belonged to the coaching staff. Jess Rooney ’00, a
former player and Joe Rouse were my assistants that season. Jess’s
enthusiasm and competitive spirit were very contagious, and I can’t say
enough about the contributions of Joe over the past 22 years. He volunteers
and is totally committed to our program from a pure love of the game.
Q: In addition to coaching, you are the associate director of athletics,
physical education coordinator and the senior woman administrator for the
Athletics Department. Tell me about these roles.
A: I am the NCAA and NESCAC compliance coordinator for our department. This
involves interpreting rules and certifying and maintaining all eligibility
for our athletes. I am also involved with student-athlete welfare issues.
This involves working closely with our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)
and planning educational programming for our student-athletes. As the Senior
Woman Administrator I attend all NESCAC Administrator meetings, the annual
NCAA convention and serve on committees for the NESCAC conference. I also
maintain and update the Student-Athlete handbook annually. I consistently
serve on reappointment and promotion committees for my colleagues. I am also
the coordinator for the physical education curriculum.
Q: Do you teach any physical education classes?
A: Yes, I teach Beginning Foil Fencing. I also teach a Feminist, Gender and
Sexuality Studies course titled “Gender and Sport.”
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: I enjoy reading, gardening and golf. I love to spend my free time near
the ocean and beach. I am also an avid participant in Tai Chi, Pilates and
Q: Do you favor any other sports? Any teams you root for?
A: I have also coached field hockey and lacrosse here at Wesleyan in the
past. I am very happy about both teams’ recent successes. Although this is
hard to admit in Red Sox nation and Yankee land, I am a lifelong Baltimore
Orioles fan and love to catch a game or two every summer at beautiful Camden
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection