March 10, 2020 – By NJP
It’s always great to interact with people who share the same values that you do. Bergen Catholic Volleyball Coach O’Mar Minaya is one of those people that you speak with and you just feel like you have known him for your entire life. His positive energy and attitude fills the room.
His Coaching style is an example of everything we represent at NJP. He has a masters in teaching which he uses in his coaching. His is always trying to better himself and represent the sport in the right way to his students and peers. He has a beautiful family and values them at the top of his priorities. He is the kind of Coach that you want your son to play for when he attends high school. You get the picture here…
Bergen Catholic has had a super amount of success in athletics over the years. Always putting together dominant teams across many sports. O’Mar has a challenge there. He is trying to raise awareness of volleyball with his students who are naturally gravitating to Football, Baseball, Basketball, and Hockey and convince them to give VB a try. This is a familiar story that we see consistently. And we see a tipping point soon as men’s volleyball continues to be the #1 growth sport in high school and college. So for now, O’Mar has accepted the challenge and has become a prophet of the sport in his school, at his club, and basically to anyone who will listen to him. We applaud that effort. And we have seen time and again that once these athletes come over to the dark side, they never want to leave.
BC has some really solid young players coming through the ranks and their starting six will able to compete at a very high level. They earned a top 45 preseason ranking after finishing 16-9 last season. If they stay healthy, they can rattle some cages in the Big North Freedom and in state sectionals. We wish them luck…
Here is our interview with Coach O’Mar…
Hi Coach… Tell us a bit about yourself?
My Name is O’Mar Minaya and I am the head volleyball Coach at Bergen Catholic HS in Oradell. I went to Passaic High School and graduated in 1995. I went to Montclair State University and graduated with a major in Criminal Justice and a minor in sociology. Eventually I decided to teach and went to NJCU and got my master’s in teaching. Then eventually went back to Montclair State and earned a second Masters’ degree in administration.
The two most important things in my life are God and family. I’m happily married with 3 children and I call Fairfield, NJ home. I am always a glass half full kind of guy and I take a lot of pride in all of the things I have accomplished in life.
Volleyball has been a part of my life since my senior year in high school. I regret that I only played my senior year because I got so much better during that season and really fell in love with the sport. I intended to play in college, unfortunately Montclair State University only has a girls’ team. However, I have not stopped playing since. I played in various leagues, then eventually got picked up for different men’s club teams, and eventually created my own team. I take a lot of pride in knowing much of the ins and outs of volleyball at different levels. Also, I am not only a coach, but I am still an active high level player (I am a setter, GEVA Men’s A) and, as of 2017, also a referee.
What motivated you to become a high school volleyball coach?
I became a high school coach because the opportunity was there. It was not something I had even thought about until my former JV coach (who was now a head coach) asked me if I was interested in being his assistant. I started substituting in October of 2002 so my first coaching season was Spring 2003. I accepted the job offer, eventually became the head coach, and am now on my 18th consecutive coaching season.
Can you share some advice for current high school level volleyball players and students? (Technical, mental, recruitment, etc…)
I separate skill and talent by relating natural ability as a talent, while a skill is something you learn. In the game of volleyball you must be patient and pay attention to what your coaches teach you. Your talent will never reach its full potential if you do not practice and take all of your learned skills and decisions every time you step on the court. For example, you might have a natural talent, like having a 40 inch vertical, but if you have a big double or triple block it would be smart of you to change the kill into the form of a smart roll shot or a properly placed dink every now and again. Also, please remember that every kill, regardless of how hard it is, is only 1 point.
As for recruitment, volleyball is a growing sport here in the US. More and more athletes are taking an interest in it. However, they are hesitant to try to play because they don’t know the sport. Those of you who already play should encourage others to join. Also, defend your sport. I’ve heard many people speak down about volleyball. I always defend my sport. It is as competitive as any other sport.
BC has some great young players coming up through the ranks like Brian Mendoza and Giovanni Perrone. Tell us about your team this year?
Brian and Giovanni are my 2 captains. They really love the sport and are great athletes. I believe that those 2 guys will do great this season. The great part about them is that Brian is only a Sophomore and Giovanni is a Junior, so they can only get better this year and next year. Brian will continue to do what he does best. He is a libero and should continue to get better through all 4 years. I also have a 4-year player Andrew Remias. Andrew has great volleyball IQ and I can ask him to play just about any position except libero.
Right now our team is struggling with numbers. During my pre-season interest meeting I had a turnout of only 9 guys. I am, currently, only practicing with the 8 players that have been showing up. However, my 8 are a dedicated 8. Hopefully, once the winter sports are done I will have a few latecomers, and hopefully those numbers will be enough to put together a decent JV team.
How difficult is it to replace a player like Dylan Anderson?
I will not be having another “Dylan Anderson” for a long time. He was one of the best HS volleyball athletes that I have seen in a long time. However, I think that Giovanni will do a good job this season as my OH1. You did not hear much about Gio because he was playing middle for me last season. He has become a much stronger player, but he has much to prove and a lot to grow in order to become the volleyball player which he has the potential to be. Giovanni has big shoes to fill, but I believe he can do it.
Can you share one tip for a current high school player to improve his game?
In order to improve your game you must be a team player. Volleyball is a team sport. Be the guy that encourages your teammates to do better, and always try your best, because many times showing your best is the greatest encouragement you can give your teammates.
How do you motivate your players?
I always believe in my players and I always let them know that. Even when facing what would be considered better teams I always believe that my athletes will do what is right and I don’t give up until the game is over. I believe my athletes rely on me when they do not know what adjustments to make. I motivate them by always telling them what they did right, followed by how it can be improved. If an athlete makes a mistake I let them know that mistakes happen. However, I truly believe in this quote: “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Vince Lombardi.
I have seen coaches who belittle their players and I know that this is not productive in any way. I make sure that every piece of feedback I give my players is useful VB knowledge.
What are your other hobbies?
My other hobby is Mountain Biking. I picked up this sport about 4 years ago. It is incredibly challenging and allows me to be in a state of concentration like no other sport. Primarily being because Mountain biking can be dangerous and a lack of focus can cause a serious injury. It is, however, extremely rewarding.
What is the biggest challenge that you have as a high school volleyball coach?
Different years have different challenges. Right now my biggest challenge is my numbers. Bergen Catholic has a lot of potential volleyball athletes, but I only have 8 guys trying out. There are many guys roaming the hallways who look athletic and don’t really play a spring sport, but are afraid to try out. I feel that once some of them break that habit others will follow. There is a potential basketball player who might try out and I feel that if he tries out others might follow.
What is your favorite volleyball story?
My favorite volleyball story is as a player in a men’s club team. It was at a Regional Championship tournament (GEVA). My team at the time (Hazard) went 4-4 in pool play and the only way we would make it into playoffs was if the last place team somehow took a set from the 1st place team on the last pool play match of the day.
Needless to say that happened, and we, Hazard, the new guys on the block, won the regional tournament that year. Two years later that same team won the Bronze in Men’s BB at USAV open nationals.
What makes you different from other coaches in your division?
I believe that what distinguishes me from most coaches is that my players all know that I am an active player and they tend to respect that. Being a current player allows me to have realistic outcomes and goals from the players on the court.
How do you determine playing time on your team?
Playing time needs to be earned. The 6 players that are on the court are the ones that deserve to be on the court. Being at every practice and listening to my directions is one of my direct factors of playing time.
What else would you like us to know about you?
I recently became a referee (2017). One of my main reasons for this was because I wanted to make a difference to the sport. My years of experience help me make good judgement calls for lifts, doubles, and alignments on the court. I have seen the lack of making these calls veer the results of a volleyball game one way or the other, and I believe that this is not fair to the sport. This is my sport and I respect it and I try my best to make it better. However, I love coaching, especially the boys, so I, currently, only officiate for girls VB. But I feel that when I officiate a game I make a difference.