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The new head coach

The new head coach

Juan Figueroa

Juan Figueroa

The new head coach

Mike Nelson, Staff Reporter

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Juan Figueroa was appointed as interim Head Coach for the Women’s Volleyball team last February after longtime Head Coach Randi
Smart resigned. Figueroa will have a large task at hand to try and meet or exceed the reputation that former Head Coach Smart experienced in her tenure throughout the program.

Figueroa was on the roster for the volleyball team and competed in track and field while attending the University of Southern California (USC). He played professionally overseas in Greece and Germany, and also represented the Puerto Rican National Team. Figueroa has played in the Puerto Rican Indoor Volleyball League, where he won two league titles in 2008 and 2014. He made the All Star Team for 5 consecutive years. Figueroa had a competitive athletic career, which reflects on the future of Cal State LA’s Women’s Volleyball.

Q: When did you start playing volleyball?
A: I started playing volleyball about 20 years ago. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and I just started playing in school and then it became my love. I got a scholarship to go to USC, so I just came straight from Puerto Rico to USC, so here I am.

Q: Where did you start coaching?
A: My last year at USC. When I was there I started coaching with Bill Ferguson at his club and he always told me that I would be a great coach. I started coaching with him and from that point on I started loving the game in a different way. when I was playing professionally overseas I would come back to the States and I would do some free clinics in Puerto Rico and a couple other places. I helped a good friend of mine start a girls’ volleyball club in Orange County and now it is one of the top clubs in southern California. Later I got an opportunity to be an Assistant Coach here at CSULA and now here I am as the head coach.

Q:What is the best part about coaching?
A: You get to stay around the game that you love and make a living. I tried the suit and tie job environment with the Government in Puerto Rico and I hated it, I had been around sports for so long that I just needed it. Being a coach allows you to be in the game in a different way and that is definitely the best part of it.

Q:What is the secret to being a good head coach?
A: I think the secret is just respect. You have to the respect the players and they have to respect you, that’s got to be the most important thing. I was still playing a year and half ago so I kind of have that player’s mentality a little bit but at the same time I am their coach, not their friend. I try to be positive, try to encourage them but I hold them accountable for everything they do.

Q:What are some of the goals you set forth for the team this year?
A: I am one the most competitive people you will ever meet in your life and I don’t even hide it. I am very, very competitive. It’s my first year, I don’t think this is a rebuilding year. I think we have the right pieces to do things that haven’t been done for this program in a long, long time. So my goals are to lead the Conference, make it to the CCAA Tournament and go from there.

Q: Who are some of the coaches you look to for inspiration?
A: Greg Popovich from the San Antonio Spurs and Bill Belichick from the New England Patriots. They are always at the top. I am trying to study what they are doing. I think it’s the same thing, that respect, that love and that culture that they have set for their organizations. That is exactly what I am trying to do here. We are trying to be a very disciplined program where all the women are setting a good example for the rest of the students on the campus. Work hard on the court and off the court.

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