Lee Maes is coaching one of the Select A1 squads at the 2018 USA Volleyball High Performance Championships here in Tulsa. A talented group of 13- and 14-year-old girls.
In addition to working with the USAV High Performance program for more than 20 years, Maes has worked for some of the top collegiate volleyball programs in the country. Currently, he is the associate head coach for the University of Colorado. In 2006, he was in his second year as an assistant coach for the Nebraska when the Huskers won the NCAA national title.
Two-time Olympic medalist Jordan Larson was a freshman on that championship squad, but that wasn’t the first time Maes had coached her. In fact, Maes coached her as a 13-year-old at HPCs in 2000!
A couple years later Maes coached another group of 13-year-olds that included future superstars, Alisha Glass, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist; Alix Klineman, a 2020 Olympic hopeful with beach partner April Ross; and Megan Hodge, 2012 Olympic silver medalist.
What were those well-known athletes like at 13?
- “Alisha Glass was a sponge. She had the physical talent but her thirst for learning helped her become a refined, skilled player.”
- “Alix Klineman was a tall, lanky string-bean but with great coordination and athleticism. Alix already demonstrated a developed, well-rounded skillset and volleyball IQ for that age. I remember a number of times where I was able to block scheme with her because of her ability to defend half the net – solo.”
- “Megan Hodge certainly passed the “eye test” when she was 13 years old: 6-2, athletic, coordinated, strong. Megan was a quiet, reserved player who let her play do all the talking. She was a big jumper with a powerful arm but had the dynamic ability to play a finesse game as well.”
- “Jordan Larson was a toothpick at 13-years-old. The one thing that stood out was how much power she had when she swung. Jordan had a naturally fast arm swing. When you looked at her, you wondered how does an athlete with that frame hit the ball so hard!’
No one can accurately predict future success of 13-year-olds, but Lee Maes knows what it takes.
Lee Maes’ Five Traits Future Stars Exhibit at 13
Over the years, Maes has served in various coaching capacities with USA Volleyball, from the senior national team to development camps.
“Coaching at nearly every level of HP, his years of dedication helped shape the foundation of High Performance,” said Heath Hoke, USAV Director of High Performance.
“Lee consistently brings a level of excellence and professionalism to our HP athletes, elevating their game and success. His impact on HP can be tracked to the many players that have benefitted from his training.”
Maes says that a main job of coaches is to make the HP experience enjoyable so that the players continue to pursue their aspirations in the sport.
But what keeps him coming back?
“It’s an honor and privilege to work with some of the best coaches and athletes our country produces. To develop young talent and assist them in their pursuit of Olympic and international aspirations is a humbling and cherished opportunity.”
The learning experience works both ways.
“Throughout the years, the chance to coach with our USA national team and high performance programs has provided me insight and immersion to elite training methods. That experience and environment offers me an opportunity to continue my own development; plus, I get to surround myself with coaches and athletes who share the same passion I have for learning and competing.”
Article and photos reposted by USA Volleyball.