Trinity’s Brian Gerwig and Todd Chamberlain, both members of the Class of 2005, are now coaching volleyball at the DI collegiate level. Enjoy their Q & A as we discussed Trinity memories, what interested them the most about coaching, and why both love not having your traditional “9-5” career.
Brian Gerwig, Assistant Coach / Recruiting Coordinator, University of Houston
Bret Saxton ’05, Trinity Director of Communications: What do you remember most about your four years here at Trinity? Favorite memories? Classes? Teachers? From an athletics/extracurricular standpoint, what were some of your favorite memories?
Brian Gerwig ’05: Art class with Mr. James Connell. WOW! What a trip. He was a great mentor, really taught discipline through art and connected with his students. Who can forget Mr. Moody’s famous sheets?
My memories of high school were so different than many others. I was only given the opportunity to attend Trinity because of the “work study” program. I will forever be grateful to Joe and Pam for putting me to work for all 4 years so that financially my family could afford to give me the great education that I got at Trinity.
BS: I remember Mr. Moody’s sheets all too well! How about life after Trinity? College career? Did you always know that you wanted to get into coaching? Was there a singular moment that really solidified the decision for you?
BG: I never thought I could turn coaching into a full-time career. I went to Western Kentucky University, graduated in 2010 with a degree in Advertising and Graphic Design. I worked with their college women’s team under Travis Hudson, and both men’s and women’s club teams.
While I was beginning my first job in advertising, I was involved with the volleyball program at Trinity from 2010-2012. One season as JV and freshman coach under the guidance of Mr. Paul Diehl and one season as the varsity head coach. That was around the time I knew I wanted to be involved in the sport. I was coaching two club teams in addition to Trinity and honestly, I didn’t know if financially I could make this work as a full-time career. Yet, I knew that I wanted to try.
BS: Let’s jump ahead to the present. Talk about how you got into the roles you’re currently in. The journey to becoming a coach at that level. Favorite parts of the job?
BG: Currently I am the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the University of Houston. My career has taken me all over the U.S. I started as a volunteer at Western Kentucky University, then got my first coaching job at George Washington University (in D.C.), then moved to Arkansas State in Jonesboro, AR, and now I am here.
Networking is one of the most important parts of building a successful career as a coach. During my first season I was able to connect with many different programs, and coaches, because of Travis (WKU volleyball coach while Brian was there as a student). He would invite all opposing coaches into his office to sit down and talk about life. Sometimes it was volleyball, sometimes we never talked about the sport.
My favorite part of the job is recruiting. This is the life blood of any successful, competitive program. This is the area of coaching where I feel like I can make the largest impact on an athlete, and on a program. I can’t describe the feeling of giving a full scholarship to a young woman and her family. This is life changing for so many of our kids. Finding the right kids can be difficult, but when you do, it makes it all worth it.
BS: Good stuff. As an assistant coach here at Trinity, I feel like that impact is certainly felt across all levels of athletics. Let’s change gears to finish up. How did Trinity prepare you for the “real world”?
BG: Trinity made college easy on an academic front. I was prepared for the workload and the academic rigors that came with college. But I also pushed myself in AP courses while at Trinity.
“The Real World” I am no longer in. I don’t sit at a desk and work a “normal” 9-5 job, and I’m very happy about that. I have an amazing career that I am proud of where I get to travel, network, and be surrounded by driven individuals daily. I have been to 43 of the 48 continental U.S. states and much of that travel is due to volleyball.
BS: Impressive! Based on your experiences, what advice would you give current Trinity students?
BG: Do your best to make meaningful connections with everyone you meet. Take a genuine interest in them: their lives, their interests, their hobbies, their family, and find common ground. I promise it exists with everyone. Focus on making lasting connections that may or may not be of personal gain in the moment.
Be tolerant and understanding of those who are different from you. Be where your feet are! Open your eyes, look around, there are so many people around you right now. Put down the phone and talk to some of the people you cross paths with daily. If you are constantly chasing something in the future, you will miss what’s going on around you.
Todd Chamberlain, Assistant Coach, University of Louisville
Bret Saxton ’05, Trinity Director of Communications: Let’s start with your time at Trinity. What do you remember standing out? Specific classes? Memories?
Todd Chamberlain ’05: My favorite memories from my four years at Trinity are centered around participating in the volleyball program. The road trips, my teammates, and the coaches all made a profound impact on my life. Not only did I enjoy getting to know Coach Pat Bowles as a coach, but he was an incredible teacher as well. Coach Bowles was one of my very first coaching mentors and inspired me early on to pursue my love for the game of volleyball further.
BS: Speaking of Coach Bowles and the Trinity volleyball program, in addition to your favorite volleyball-specific moments, what other extracurricular memories were some of your favorites?
TC: I have many fond memories from my time at Trinity. My greatest memory was winning the state volleyball championship my junior year. Another fun memory took place during my senior year, where Toussaint House won the House Intramural Basketball championship. Although I never played basketball for Trinity, I was thrilled to win the tournament and experience it with a crew of good friends.
BS: I remember watching you dunk a basketball and thinking we could probably use that guy somewhere on our basketball team! Let’s switch gears and talk about life after Trinity. When did you know you wanted to get into coaching?
TC: I grew up watching my dad play volleyball. He was my first coach in fifth grade and my passion for the sport gradually increased each year. Although there wasn’t one singular moment that solidified my decision to enter the world of coaching, the combination of positive experiences along my journey helped guide me in the direction of coaching. From my years at Trinity, to playing competitive club, and then for the Ball State men’s volleyball program, each of these experiences eventually culminated in being offered my first paid coaching job at the University of Kansas.
BS: Wow! So, you take your first paid gig at Kansas, what’s next? How did you get from Kansas to where you are currently?
TC: I am currently the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the women’s volleyball program at the University of Louisville. After graduating from Ball State, I coached high school volleyball, club, and traveled all over the Midwest to work camps. I ended up being a volunteer assistant for the women’s program at the University of Kentucky the following year. After gaining this experience, I interviewed at a few power-five Division I schools and accepted a job at the University of Kansas. At KU, I coached some of the most successful volleyball players of my career thus far, each of them achieving accolades which led the program to winning the Big 12 Championship and reaching the program’s first Sweet 16, Elite 8, and Final Four in 2015. After eight years at KU, I accepted my current role at the University of Louisville in 2018. In three years, we have made three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, advancing to the programs first Elite 8 in 2019, the Sweet Sixteen in 2020 as well as winning the 2020 ACC Championship.
BS: Very impressive! What are some of your favorite parts of the job?
TC: The opportunity to play a pivotal role in the lives of collegiate student athletes is my favorite part of the job. Building relationships with the players is the first step but taking part and being a catalyst for growth over the course of four to five years is why I love what I do. For me, it is the gradual improvements in the gym and being a part of athlete’s lives to help ensure their college experience is the best it can be.
BS: Like I told Brian, as a coach here at Trinity, I completely understand that feeling and know how powerful it can be. What advice would you give to current Trinity students?
TC: My biggest advice would be to enjoy and take advantage of every opportunity Trinity has to offer. High school is what you make of it. If you let it, it will be some of the most meaningful years of your life.