Louisiana Tech has been taking several steps to build its academic and athletic program. One recent step taken was the subtraction of Matt Sonnichsen as the volleyball head coach and replacing him with Adriano de Souza.
De Souza’s resume is decorated by schools and teams from all over the world. Some of his most recent jobs include assistant coaching at Illinois State, Miami (Ohio) and Kent State.
Players like freshman outside hitter Fenix Calderon, who was recruited by de Souza, stresses the type of compassion and energy she gets from her coach.
“He knows what he wants, and he’s going to do whatever it takes to get it,” Calderon said. “And I believe in him just as he believes in us.”
Junior middle blocker Emily Maher said she wasn’t sure who was going to be the new coach after Sonnichsen was released, but she said she was glad it was de Souza.
“He is so enthusiastic,” Maher said. “He said he wanted to make a difference with this program, and he wasn’t just talking the talk. It felt like he meant what he was saying, and I’m really excited about him following through with his word.”
Maher said the turning point for the Techsters on an intimate level. The point when they all knew that win or lose, they must be there for each other. This intervention was led by de Souza after a loss to Northwestern.
“He called us off the bus after we lost and told us to hold hands and make a circle,” Maher said. “He started talking about his family and personal moments. He wanted us all to get on the same level and understand that we are all in this together no matter what.”
Maher said De Souza brought his team together and shared personal feelings about his personal life as a way to show them that they all go through things and they all will stick together no matter how good or bad the situation.
Freshman outside hitter Fenix Calderon said half the team was in tears after this touching moment.
“Our eyes started to water,” Calderon said. “We felt what he was feeling. We all had something to compare with what he was going through.”
After a slow 3-12 start this season, Maher said she knows they will be better in the future under de Souza’s guidance but it will be a process.
“We all understand it’s a step-by-step process,” Maher said. “Coach said we’re laying the foundation for the ‘house’ we’re trying to build.”
Despite all the touchy details, de Souza is all about business and wastes no time expressing to the Techsters what they need to do to get better. De Souza stresses the importance of having disciplined players on his squad.
“I want to help my players become mature and empower them to become good decision makers,” de Souza said. “I want to help them develop socially, emotionally and physically. I allow the players to learn some things on their own.”
De Souza said that there is no need to woo the veteran players into liking him and jumping on his ship. In his eyes, they are all “newbies” as a totally different team.
“Everybody is new under my lead,” de Souza said. “I don’t try to get them to buy into any system. It is their responsibility to understand my ideas that I bring to the program and move forward together.”
Email comments to rjk...@latech.edu.