Hawkeye volleyball team puts a new spin on leadership and accountability

Head coach Vicki Brown has implemented a three-group leadership system to split up responsibility among all players.

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Jenna Galligan

Iowa Head Coach Vicki Brown watches the Hawkeyes during a volleyball game against Coastal Carolina at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Friday, September 20, 2019. The Chanticleers defeated the Hawkeyes 3-1.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter


The Hawkeye volleyball team is putting a new spin on leadership to ensure everyone on the roster has some accountability.

Each player has been put into one of three groups — The Rangers, Seal Team, and Delta Force — by their teammates based on personality traits they bring to the team.

“It’s that question of leadership and how do you find leadership, but then make sure everyone on your team feels like they are contributing to upholding the standard,” head coach Vicki Brown said. “When you designate for our size of team, it can become overwhelming to be the only one holding the team accountable.”

Brown had come up with the idea during her time at Illinois State and implemented it with the Hawkeyes this past spring using different group names.

The three groups are permanent, and each group has also created a motto for themselves that will change as the years go on and different players come and go through the groups.

“With this level, all of my players have come in as former leaders of their high school or club teams,” Brown said. “It’s a way to encourage these skills that they have learned but it’s also a way to divvy up the responsibility of leading.”

The Rangers group has more juniors and seniors who serve as mentors that the team might come to with questions and who know how to organize themselves as well as the team.

Seal Team 6 has many players that lead by example while not being very vocal. However, Brown said they are typically the players who contribute good input when they decide to speak.

Delta Force is the largest group out of the three, and Brown said it is more team-based as far as figuring out where they are as a group. It is the most diverse leadership group and helps give insight into what is going on with the team from all different kinds of players.

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“I would describe us as the glue for the team because a lot of the girls in our group are good at forming relationships and having those connections with a lot of the girls on the team, which definitely contributes to having good team chemistry and keeping everyone on track,” Hannah Clayton, a junior in Delta Force, said.

Before they were told about the leadership groups, each player was given a slip of paper with each of their teammates’ names on it and told to put them in a cup under a list of characteristics.

“Initially it was obviously very different because for my entire career at Iowa we have always had captains and that was the only role group,” Clayton said. “This is just a new, innovative way of doing that, and I think it has been really good for our team just because we have a younger team.”

While the Hawkeyes have not played a competitive match during the era of these new leadership groups, sophomore Edina Schmidt said that everyone is proud to be in the group they are in and there has been a positive difference in the way the team practices and plays.

“I can see it transferring on the court, as I said everyone is very cautious about their responsibilities and that will show on the court,” Schmidt said. “Even if it is communication or holding each other accountable, it will for sure be visible on the court.”

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