April 10, 2008
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
Pop quiz. Which member of the Purdue volleyball coaching staff spent nine years as head coach of an Indiana high school program, seven of which ended with a top 10 ranking in the state poll? This person was also the 2001 Class 4A Indiana State Coach of the Year. Any guesses? If you said Dave Shondell, guess again.
Need another hint? This coach had a very successful playing career at Ball State, serving as the team's starting setter for three years and earning All-America honors as a junior. As a freshman, this person even played on an NCAA Final Four team. If you said Kathy Jewell, sorry but you would be wrong again.
This highly successful coach is none other than John Shondell, the man behind the scenes of Purdue volleyball. Over the last five years, the Boilermaker assistant coach has played a very crucial role in the program's success.
"He's a great coach and a great teacher," head coach and brother Dave Shondell said. "He's been around the game of volleyball and around outstanding coaches his entire life. He knows the game."
Prior to coming to Purdue, John was the head volleyball coach at New Castle High School. During his tenure, 12 of his players received Division I scholarships, including seven in his last two years. His teams compiled a 296-87 record and were ranked among the top two in the state in each of his last three seasons.
For the last five years, he's brought that type of success to the Purdue program. The team has made the NCAA Tournament each of the last four seasons, including Sweet 16 runs in 2005 and 2006. Last year, the Boilermakers posted their best finish in the Big Ten (T3rd) since 1990.
"I love doing what I do here, which is coaching, working with the players, and helping them grow on and off the court," John said. "I can just focus on what's going on in the gym."
One dynamic that seems to make this relationship work so well, according to Dave, is that he and his brother are so different from one another.
"I think that we make a pretty good tandem," Dave said. "Where I am a little more aggressive as a coach, he's a little more soft-spoken. He likes to train fundamental skills and work with small groups of players. I prefer working with the team aspect."
Complementing his ability to train players is John's ability to relate to them. The relationships he builds with the student-athletes through hours of practice in the gym are a key part to his success.
"I think I can relate really well. I can empathize with them," John said. "Since I played my whole life, I have a feeling for what they're going through."
Once again, John's easy-going personality sets him apart.
"As a head coach, sometimes you have to bark at your players," Dave said. "John's demeanor is such that he's so non-threatening to them, which I think is great to have in the gym. Our players really like him."
Working as an assistant coach allows John to use all of these talents behind the scenes. Considering this, Dave feels very lucky to still have his brother here at Purdue.
"In Division I athletics, especially in the Big Ten, the head coach has so many responsibilities that go along with running a program," Dave said. "If you don't have one or two outstanding coaches on your staff that can run your team, you're at a real disadvantage. I think we have such an advantage because we have somebody who can be a head coach at the Division I level just about anywhere."
Lucky for Purdue fans and players alike, John Shondell is a Boilermaker.