It’s all new territory and at least a whole new neighborhood for Montana Tech new head women’s volleyball coach Brian Solomon.
The youngish coach has put together a nice resume so far and will be looking to strengthen it, as well as the Orediggers’ fortunes on the court. A lot is different in the Montana Tech these preseason days, players have said. Whether the new ideas, tactics and style will be better than that of successful predecessor Marilyn Tobin is yet to be judged.
It is kind of a his and hers mix in camp this year with six senior veterans of the Tobin campaigns and five freshman Solomon recruits holding down most of the roster spots.
Solomon’s past indicates he will make it work.
“We’re making them all compete for every spot,” Solomon said when pried from us duties for a few minutes one recent afternoon at the Tech HPER Complex. “Everything is wide open. We’re seeing who competes and earns what spots.”
It was the first week of preseason workouts and coaches and players were adjusting to each other and the new blueprint. Asked how he thought it all looked so far, the new coach responded, with a wry smile: “Like it’s the fourth day of practice. I’m glad you didn’t ask me that on the first day.“
He laughed though. It was a good-natured one, like promise was probable.
The drills have been all-day, at least enough to warrant two-a-day status, but yet tailored to the academic and summer work needs of the athletes.
Solomon, his wife, Lindsey, and their son Cole, recently completed their cross-country move to Butte, all the way from Columbia, S.C. Solomon headed a successful program at Columbia College, one that not only had to overcome a series of losing seasons, but also its Fighting Koalas nickname.
Columbia posted a 24-9 record in 2009, Solomon’s third at season at the helm. It ended a string of losing seasons for the Koalas and was the first of three shinning years that capped the Solomon term at the college. He was the Southern States Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2009 as the Koalas placed third in the league.
The 2011 team went 25-12 and reached the semifinals of the Appalachian Athletic Conference, which Columbia joined after leaving the SSAC following the 2010 season.
Solomon was an assistant coach at Milligan College and Emmanuel Christian Seminary in Johnson City, Tenn., prior to launching his head coaching career. He holds a masters of divinity degree from the seminary. He has coached Columbia to national rankings.
Solomon’s assistant, Katie Welsh, succeeded him as the Koalas head coach.
His assistant with the Orediggers is recent Montana Tech standout Janet Friesz.
Solomon has collegiate playing experience as well as time in the coaching ranks. He was a setter for the Hope International men’s team 2002-2004. The team was a Top 10-ranked power in NAIA men’s volleyball during his playing career and won back-to-back national championships, 2002-2003, in the National Christian College Athletic Association.
He was voted the Hope International Outstanding Male Athlete for 2004, and was an NCCAA volleyball All-American in 2003.