September 22, 2020 – By NJP
We have had Coach Pedro Trevino on our target list for some time now. Since we started covering NJ Volleyball three years ago, he has been one of the standout coaches that set the bar for others to follow. He has an impressive record as a player, as an assistant coach, and as a head coach for high school, club, and college for both genders. Wisconsin is not normally known as a hot bed for volleyball talent, but Pedro was recruited by NJIT and his Jersey roots began.
So we can look at Coach’s success while playing at NJIT and recap his 4 years at varsity as one of the best setters in the programs history. Or we can look his coaching success stories from high school at Summit and St. Joe’s Metuchen, his time at Kean and Rutgers, and his recent joining at NJIT to turn the program around. We can speak about the many players he has influenced at Warren Six Pack over the years and the many tournament wins and great players he helped to improve their game and gain access to colleges. We can talk about all that, and we do a pretty good job of covering those topics below, but our main focus for our introduction does not focus on those items at all.
We interact with a lot of volleyball coaches at all levels. When we see Coach Pedro, we think of decency and professionalism. And about his daughter CJ and his son Christian. Every interaction we have had with them sends us a message about their Mom and Dad. They are respectful. They are humble and yet extremely motivated. They are leaders and are the players you want on your team. They pick you up and make you better rather than put you down and discourage. So with deep respect, we honor Coach Trevino, not only for his efforts to make his student athletes better volleyball players, but also for his efforts to make them better human beings. He has been a father-figure to his players when they have needed it and a Coach and mentor to his kids in their volleyball careers, as well as a super-Dad.
His task is somewhat daunting for the NJIT Women and he is starting from the ground up. Coach knew it would take some time to build a program and with just 4 seniors and no juniors on the squad in his first season, he emphasized fundamentals and building the core strategy of what NJIT volleyball will become. As this team matures, we expect the Highlanders to rev up in 2021 and blast off for the 2022 season and beyond as Coach puts his mark on the school he loves and creates his legacy as a Coach.
Here is our interview with Coach Trevino…
Tell us a bit about yourself, Coach?
I was born a cheesehead in Racine, WI. I played for JI Case High School and Great Lakes Volleyball Club. My dad played semi-pro football and now coaches for the Racine Raiders so that was my main sport when I was younger. In WI, football and volleyball are both in the fall. I intended to play football in high school and only play club volleyball. Then I got an invitation to try out for the high school volleyball team in the mail and went for it. To this day I don’t know why I changed my mind, but I’m glad I did!
My high school volleyball coach was Gary Sorenson who’s nephew Tom Sorenson played for Pepperdine and the US National Team. He basically taught me the whole game of volleyball. He didn’t care if you were good at a particular position, in my case setting. He made everyone learn every position and how to pass. I am very blessed to have had him as a coach. This greatly influenced the way I coach because I played every position (some more successfully than others!) so I learned what to expect from all players. My club coach for 17s and 18s was Steve Simonsen. He played at IPFW and backed up Lloy Ball on the US National team. He taught me how to run an offense and how to see what the other side of the court is doing. He took my game to the next level and I am very thankful for him as well.
In 1996 our club team went to Richmond to play in the Memorial Day weekend tournament. This is where I got recruited by NJIT. I truly enjoyed my college career. I loved playing for my college coach, Dave DeNure. He was a setter as well and we had a great player-coach relationship. Dave and I are still in touch and I turn to him for advice on many things. I was very lucky to be able to play against some very good colleges and earn some wins over them as well. My first college match was against Ohio State. We were down 2 games when Dave took a chance and put me in mid-way through the 3rd game. We came back and won the 3rd game, the 4th and finally pulled off the upset. I thought college was easy! Well, I was wrong. We lost our next 4 matches, but we turned it around to finish the season strong. My sophomore year we beat Penn State at home 3-1. The fans stormed the court and it was such an awesome experience.
What motivated you to become a college volleyball coach?
I started coaching for my kids, though I never dreamed it would become my career. My wife and I started, as many parents do, coaching our daughter’s soccer team when she was very young. I really enjoyed working with the kids and knew then that it was something I’d like to pursue, though I assumed it would always be a side job. I then had the chance to start coaching my daughter in grammar school and have continued at different levels ever since.
As Mark Twain said, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I have been very fortunate to have opportunities to coach professionally for 11 years so far. Getting up in the morning and going to work as a volleyball coach has never felt like a job, but a privilege.
Can you tell us the various coaching positions you have held throughout your career and some of the successes along the way?
After coaching some grammar school teams, I became the assistant volleyball coach at St Joseph High School in Metuchen in 2009. I absolutely loved coaching with Miguel Cabrita, who has been the head coach at St. Joes since 2005. I knew the game of volleyball, but I did not really know how to coach yet. I learned a tremendous amount from Miguel about all facets of coaching; managing players, personalities, parents, administrations, schedules, etc. etc. which has definitely helped me throughout my coaching career. Working at St Joes was also awesome because it is a top program in the state. It’s where I met many of the coaches that I’m friends with today, who are all great coaches and offer insight and experience that I very highly value.
From 2010-2011, I was the Head Girls Coach at Summit High School. This was another valuable experience working with what became a very successful program. The girls set multiple team records that year and it was a fun learning experience as my first Head Coach position. I was only there two years because Kean Men’s Volleyball offered me an opportunity to join them as an assistant in their Inaugural Season. This was my first college coaching experience. I learned the next level of coaching and program management from Kean’s Head Coach, Don Perkins. While that first season did not end in a winning record, it set the foundation for what Don has led to a nationally recognized success.
After Kean I got an offer to be an assistant at NJIT for the Men’s team but that only lasted for about 2 weeks because the Rutgers-Newark (RUN) Head Coach position opened. Mark Griffin, RUN Athletic Director offered it to me and this was my first job as a college head coach. In 2015 and 2016 we made the NCAA tournament. This was an incredible experience. In 2015 we won the CVC Conference Championship. In 2016 we made the conference championship but lost in the finals, though because our record was great, we earned an At-Large bid for the NCAA tournament. In 2016 our setter won the Elite 90 award which goes to the highest GPA student-athletes at the tournament. In that 2 year span we had a total of 4 All-Americans, 7 All Conference and 1 Conference Player of the Year. I am very proud of those guys and their accomplishments.
You have coached an awesome group of young men at Warren Six Pack who now graduate to the 18-1 National team, which is traditionally the best club team in NJ. Tell us about your experience at Warren Six Pack and the players you expect to be part of the squad for 2020-21?
We haven’t had try outs so I honestly don’t know who will be on the team. We do give everyone a fair chance when they try out. I will say this, this is my last year with Six Pack and working with Fred Siegle has been a fun time. Fred does so much for boys volleyball in NJ that I don’t think a lot of high school teams would be where they are if it wasn’t for Fred. It has been an honor to coach with Six Pack and I thank Fred for giving me this opportunity. When I started about 10 years ago with Six Pack I was just a practice coach and now I am a head coach that Fred trusts with any team which is an honor. Fred isn’t big on having parents coach their kids and I do agree with him but he let me take over the 14s team back in 2015 – 2016 which gave me a chance to start coaching my son. It has been awesome to watch these young men grow up and develop as players.
The core guys that I have coached since 14 are Ben Fryc, Konrad Bieniek, Gil Zyndorf, Jay Hyman, Tommy Deakyne, Nick Schon and Christian Trevino. We have added several great players to the line up in recent years, and I am thrilled to be coaching the 18-1s for the last time this season. I have been very lucky to have coached a lot of the NJ talent over the years. I coached Eric Li who played at JP Stevens HS and now plays for Harvard University, during his 16s year. It was so much fun watching him develop and turn into the tremendous player he is now. He did everything for us on that team.
I have coached many great, talented kids but one of my favorites is Tommy Deakyne, who is now a senior at Southern Regional HS. Tommy started playing on my 14s team and is one of the most coachable kids I’ve ever met. Tommy always comes through as a clutch player. He has developed fantastic instincts for the game and listens whenever a coach offers instruction or advice. His desire to continually improve inspires me to want to be a better coach and help him, and the other great kids at Six Pack. This club is one big family and I’m blessed to have coached several generations here.
Volleyball plays a huge part in your family with your daughter CJ now playing at NJIT and your son Christian being one of the top players in NJ High school this year as a senior. Tell us about your roots in volleyball that have influenced your family involvement.
I told both of my kids to not play volleyball when they were younger. I didn’t want them to think they had to play the sport I played. They are very athletic and have played a variety of sports including swimming, rugby and soccer to name a few. I just really enjoy watching them play all of it.
You had a stellar college volleyball career at NJIT as a 4 year starting setter. Tell us about your junior experience in 1999 when the team finished 26-5 and won an EIVA Dll championship?
My junior year was the best year of my 4 seasons at NJIT, and one of the top seasons in the school’s history. When our record hit 14-0, we knew we had something special going. We finished the season seeded 3rd in the EIVA. We had to play Princeton in the first round and nobody wanted to play them. They won the EIVA the year before and were playing good ball at the end of that season. 1999 was NJIT’s first time hosting a EIVA playoff match so we couldn’t lose that! We beat them 3-1. The 1st seed was Penn State so they hosted both semi final matches. We went all the way to Happy Valley to play Rutgers-Newark from right across the street! Two weeks before those matches, they had absolutely destroyed us. This was our rematch and we didn’t disappoint. We surprised them and won 3-1. This meant we played Penn State in the finals on their home turf. We lost and it still bothers me, but our overall season was something special.
Can you tell us how it feels to return to your alma mater to coach volleyball after such a successful career as a player?
It is such a cool feeling to be back at NJIT. I really enjoyed my time as a student and a player, so it’s an honor to have the chance to hopefully create that same experience for a new generation of Highlanders. My wife and I have known Lenny Kaplan (NJIT AD) since he started during our senior year, so to have the chance to work with him was too good to pass up. Running into Dr. Bloom, who I’ve known since my freshman year, at games, is a testament to NJIT and the loyalty and support of it’s staff. I have the advantage of understanding how a top-notch engineering school runs first hand. This is a tremendous asset when recruiting the players who will best fit our unique environment among Division I schools. On a personal level, every time I walk into the WEC, it feels like a homecoming. The new building is still very exciting almost three years after it’s opening. To look up from the arena floor and see my office window gives me an incredible feeling of happiness and gratitude. It feels great to be home.
Elley Torres from Princeton Volleyball Club was one of your freshman recruits this year to join CJ and Julianna Impaglia as players with NJ roots. What advice do you have for NJ high school players who aspire to play D1 volleyball at home here in NJ?
I think any time you can play in your home state it is an awesome thing. My advice to any HS player is to find the right fit not only for athletics but academics. Don’t go to a school to just play volleyball, or any sport, if they don’t have a major you are interested in. My main focus is academics so when we recruit players, we don’t just look at their volleyball skills, we look for the right academic fit. We want our players to be successful on and off the court and I am sure that’s the case at the other NJ D1 programs as well.
Tell us about the 2021 Highlanders. Where do you expect to finish? Who do you expect to be your top contributors?
Each year we will be getting better and better. I feel we are bringing in the players that will help us win and who fit NJIT. I do not generally make predictions because anything can happen. 2020 has taught us that for sure.
Our biggest contributors will be our Middles. I loved running the middle as a player and I love running them as a coach as well. I am just excited that all of our younger players will continue to develop into good quality players.
We have seen hundreds of lunches and dinners served up and posted by Chef Pedro on Instagram. How has cooking influenced your COVID at home time with your family?
LOL! I have always loved to cook but never had the time to consistently do it. Having a 17 year old boy at home all day who is always hungry, I knew I had to start cooking more otherwise we’d have been bankrupted from all the takeout! I am a perfectionist so initially cooking was annoying. My meals didn’t look like the videos and recipes I was following but COVID cooking has taught me a lot about patience and I think that will help me when I get back to coaching. A silver lining to 2020 has been the amount of family time and home cooked meals have given us more of that.
How has the “Dead Period” affected your recruitment of the class of 2025? When do you expect to be able get prospects on campus for tours?
It has been tough because I love going out and watching players play live and meeting new people. We have had to get creative like many other professions. We now do a lot of webex meetings with our recruits and I do facetime tours of the campus. It gives us a chance to get to know who we are recruiting and they get to know us as well before they are committed to the program.
Can you share some advice for current high school level volleyball players and students? (Technical, mental, recruitment, etc…). Can you share one tip for a current high school player to their game?
I will say this, when you are making a highlight video make it 2 to 2:30 minutes max. Anything longer than that may deter some coaches who may not have time to watch longer videos. Keep it short and simple so that your hard work gets noticed.
How would you describe your coaching style? What kind of players do best with your coaching style?
I believe in adapting my style to the team I have. Again, 2020 has taught us that flexibility is the name of the game. Each recruiting class brings new personalities and ways of contributing to the team. I try to adapt my style so I can help each player bring out the best in themselves. I also want them all to have fun! Volleyball is a game and while you can learn many life skills from playing it, I want each player to enjoy their time with our program.
Players who are confident, willing to work hard and are competitive by nature are generally kids who fit best with the program I am working toward.
Tell us about your assistant coaches and other staff at NJIT…
I have one of the best assistant coaches I could ever ask for. Ray Bello started at NJIT a year before me so he knew how things worked around the athletic department. I started in February of 2019 and we had to get into recruiting for the 2019 class right away. He was a huge asset. Ray was fully prepared with names and recruiting videos to look at once I officially started. Ray was both the Mens and Womens Head Coach at Hunter College before he became the assistant coach at Fordham University. Ray knows a lot of people in the area which gives us connections in the local volleyball community. Ray is one of the main reasons why this program is on a great path. He is completely invested in NJIT and I couldn’t ask for a better colleague to help turn this program around.