Coach is focused on growing volleyball in Eastern Montana

Thursday, September 5, 2019
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Jamie Ausk Crisafulli photo

Red Devil volleyball coach Tiffaney Egan instructs players during a practice session focused on setting last week. Egan is in her third year as head coach of the Lady Red Devils.

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Jamie Ausk Crisafulli photo

As the varsity coach at Dawson County High School, Coach Tiffaney Egan works to connect the volleyball program with athletes district-wide

Meet the Coach

(Editor’s Note: With fall sports ramping up, we felt it was the perfect time to reintroduce our readers to the people who put in countless hours to prepare DCHS teams and athletes for success on and off the competition field. This is the third in a series about Red Devil fall coaches)

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

When she first arrived in Glendive with her family four years ago, Dawson County High School volleyball coach Tiffaney Egan had planned on pursuing different interests with her spare time, but a love of the sport and a desire to share her knowledge and enthusiasm for the game with girls in the area pulled her back into coaching.

“I was actually going to hang my hat up and pursue some other goals that were on my bucket list,” Egan said. “But when I got here, I recognized that there were so many athletes here that weren’t getting the same opportunities that I did, or my kids did, so I put that bucket list aside. It’s a way that I can be part of the youth in this valley, to give something back that I’ve got some talent at.”

Egan moved to town in 2015 when her husband’s employer, Thatcher Chemical, opened a location in Glendive. They moved here from Idaho Falls, Idaho, where Egan was born and raised. She played volleyball while in high school and attended college at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) in Rexburg, Idaho, where she majored in secondary education. She did not, however, play volleyball in college, nor did she go directly into coaching, nor, originally, did she know that she wanted to.

Instead, Egan started raising a family. She was raising four children when a friend approached her about helping coach a middle school volleyball team. She agreed, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“From that moment, I was hooked, and I just went really deep into it,” Egan said.

Her “really deep into it” involved engrossing herself in volleyball coaching clinics, one after the other, for the next 15 years before moving to Glendive. She still regularly attends coaching clinics, with her latest this summer in Las Vegas. She credits those clinics and the coaches she’s worked under during them and as an assistant coaching middle school and club volleyball teams in Idaho with shaping her into the coach she is today.

“I coached underneath two phenomenal coaches who had a long-standing record of success,” Egan said of her experiences. “I’ve had a lot of opportunity to surround myself with amazing coaches.”

She noted that getting involved with organized volleyball, even as a coach, is not for the faint of heart, as the sport is hypercompetitive.

“Volleyball is the No. 1 female sport in the nation in terms of participants, as well as in the state of Montana, so it’s very competitive,” she said.

It’s also a sport she absolutely loves. She said its fast-paced nature, the skill required and the close teamwork needed to have success in it is what makes volleyball so special to her.

“It’s a fast-paced game and it takes place in a small area, but it takes a lot of skill, teamwork and explosion to succeed,” Egan said. “It’s a very technique-driven sport. It’s just a challenge, and I really like the team aspect of it.”

And growing the sport in Dawson County and across Eastern Montana is something Egan hopes to accomplish. She said she sees a lot of natural talent for the game in the area and it’s just a matter of tapping into that talent and giving them the direction and tools they need to succeed.

“We have phenomenal athletes here in this valley, and one of my biggest philosophies as a coach is to develop kids,” she said. “Honestly, here in Glendive, it’s been really fun to watch my athletes recognize they can do more than they ever thought they could.”

With the right direction, Egan said she believes the Glendive area can become like her hometown of Idaho Falls in terms of being a hotbed of volleyball talent, something she got to be a part of on the “ground floor” and hopes she can help spark here.

“I played on the very first club team in my town, and now Idaho Falls is considered one of the biggest hubs for volleyball in all Idaho, and it was pretty cool to be part of the beginning of that,” she said.

So far, things appear to be headed in the right direction. In the three full seasons Egan has been the Lady Devils’ head coach, her team has made it to state twice, reaching that level each of the past two years.

She added that she does have high hopes for this year’s squad, given the individual talent levels, but added they have some work to do to truly become a team.

“We have a lot of talent this year and we have a lot of athleticism. However, in volleyball, that doesn’t ever matter. What matters is how we can gel and build that camaraderie, and in that we have a lot of work to do” Egan said. “We have a lot of potential but a lot of work to do.”

After all, closely-coordinated teamwork and trusting your teammates is at the heart of the sport.

“Having that camaraderie, that aspect of it I really love,” Egan said.

The sport, and the camaraderie that comes with it, has meant a lot to Egan throughout her life, and she remains eager to introduce more girls to it so it can impart some joy and life wisdom in their lives as well.

“I feel like I’ve been so blessed, so blessed in so many different aspects because of this game, and I just want to give back,” she said.

Because in learning to play the sport of volleyball — in mastering its technical aspects and learning to work together as a team — the young women under Egan’s charge can learn that the sky’s the limit for their futures.

“With some strong work and determination, they really can move mountains,” Egan said.

Reach Jason Stuart at dcedc@midrivers.com.

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