Volleyball coach Jim Hunstein has a passion for the game and a love for training others. He chose to continue pursuing those interests at Blackburn College when he was hired this summer.
Hunstein’s involvement with volleyball began during his college years when he played for recreational teams and with his friends. One of these friends was the reason he started coaching. “Another mutual friend’s daughter was playing on a team, and he was helping coach,” Hunstein recalled. “I decided to help them, and it just snowballed from there.”
From 2008 to 2012, Hunstein was an assistant volleyball coach at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. His team won the national championship in 2009. Afterwards, he took a position as head coach of volleyball and tennis at Lewis and Clark Community College.
Hunstein was introduced to Blackburn after his tennis team played the college. He attempted to have his volleyball team play against Blackburn later on but couldn’t get them on the schedule due to Blackburn’s turnover in coaching. “I heard about the job opening two years ago, but at the time it was a combination of volleyball and softball, which didn’t interest me,” Hunstein added. “Then, it became volleyball only, and that was my interest.”
Hunstein clarified that coaching two sports is detrimental to both teams’ development. “I did it for four years – coaching two sports. You never have an offseason. You’re always involved with one of the teams, but you keep thinking you have to do something for the other team,” he said. Hunstein mentioned that there are practices to arrange to train in the offseason, and the other element to focus on is recruiting. Overall, he noted that going back and forth between the two sports can be difficult to juggle.
Defensive specialist Alexis Dick has been playing volleyball at Blackburn College for three years. Hunstein will be her third coach. “It’s hard to create a foundation when there’s a constant change in coaching staff. There’s no set rotation or positions,” she said.
However, Dick believes Hunstein could be the best coach she has had at Blackburn so far. She explained that the coach she had her freshman year was more focused on fundamentals, and her coach during her sophomore year had no set structure. She added, “[Hunstein’s] theory is to make mistakes and learn from them. He’s not a punishing coach.”
Hunstein noted his coaching philosophy is to train ugly. Instead of creating simulations for the team to practice in, he believes in having them play actual games during practice. He explained that games are going to be random, so his practices should prepare the players for those situations.
Hunstein emphasized that he wanted to provide the team with the stability they deserve. He clarified, “They need to know someone is going to be here for a while to build a program that they can believe in.”