Throughout the offseason, GoMocs.com plans to check in with all 12 of UTC’s head coaches to see what goes on during the summer months with each program and help the fans get to know Chattanooga's head coaches off the court or field.
Volleyball head coach Travis Filar has been hard at work with his 2014 team, just wrapping up spring practices before summer break.
Coach Filar is entering his fourth season at UTC and took time out for the Q&A below.
Going into your fourth season, what excites you about this year’s team that maybe you haven’t experienced with the past three rosters?
“I think we have a lot to prove. I think everyone who was involved with our program or saw us compete last year saw some really good things happen. They know how close we were in a lot of different matches. Going 2-7 in five-set matches is a hard thing, and the focus of what our spring was about competing more, fighting more and finding ways to win in those positions. We challenged our team this spring with a lot of pressure. We really taxed them mentally, but we are going to be better for it. We are going to be mentally tougher and we are going to be a more mature group.
“We feel like we have veterans this season. We are going to have seniors, which is going to be nice, and our juniors are going to have a lot of match experience. They’ve been playing since they stepped foot on campus as freshmen. We finally feel like we have a balanced, veteran group. We’ve added some awesome pieces to the team with new players, and the conference is going to be very competitive. Our kids made a commitment to get better and I am excited to see the results. We are ready to prove that all of the hard work that we’ve put in is going to begin paying off.”
How did you become involved with volleyball? How did you become interested in playing and where did you learn the game?
“My story is pretty unique because there’s not a ton of options for boy’s volleyball in the south. And it’s pretty slim going on to play at the college level. I was very fortunate to be a coach’s kid. My dad was a coach for almost 30 years, so I was kind of that child that grew up in the gym. It went from volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter, tennis in the spring and some summer soccer. I was always around sports and was a well-rounded athlete. My dad was always teaching and coaching at the school I was going to, so I would get out of school and run over to the gym to help out at practice. I always wanted to finish my homework and help out at practice – if that meant shagging volleyballs or trying to get in the layup line at baseball practice.
“Helping out at volleyball practice was my first exposure to volleyball. I really started playing a ton when I was in high school. I really fell in love with playing sand volleyball, and a good friend of mine had a court. We played the summer before my senior year in high school and the summer before my freshman year in college. We played all the time all summer. I really fell in love with the game there, and when I knew I wanted to work with young people – weather it was teaching or coaching – I started working as many camps in the summer as I could at colleges. At that time my dad was coaching women’s basketball at Davidson, so I would work his basketball camps. Then I got tied into their volleyball camps where I learned so much more about the game and how to play the game better. I always tied to work as many camps in June and July while I was home from school.”
Who is your coaching role model? Is there anyone you look up to or try to model yourself after in the field?
“My dad has always been a mentor and role model for me, first and foremost in life and how to be a better person. He has really taught me a lot about who I am and he is an incredible figure in my life. He is also my go-to person career-wise. I’ve always gone to him whenever I’ve had tough decisions to make in my career and looking to find new jobs to move into as an assistant coach. He has also helped me on tough decisions like assembling a staff and handling other things that come along with a coaching job. He has always been there for me. He’s never told me what to do, but he gives me the options and helps guide me in the right direction.
“He and I are alike in our two programs because we are both trying to build from the ground up. While he was at Davidson, he had to basically start all over and rebuild their women’s basketball program. He was there for a little over 10 years, and I feel like that is kind of the process we are in here. I feel like we are really trying to rebuild Chattanooga volleyball to a championship level. He has been awesome in that regard, as well, because he has been through that process. He has been in my chair before, and to have a father who has so much life and coaching experience has definitely been a huge blessing.”
If you weren’t coaching volleyball, what do you believe you would be doing?
“I was an elementary school P.E. teacher my first year out of school. I coached high school women’s volleyball and men’s basketball. I also taught for the two years while I was a volunteer assistant at Kentucky.
“I think teaching is the easy answer, but my off-the-wall answer would be to go to culinary school. I really love cooking and I always get infatuated by cooking shows on television. If I wasn’t coaching or teaching, I’d be cooking. I love to cook and love to eat.”