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From playing to coaching, Madison Harvey is giving back to a sport she loves

The players stood in a huddle, silent and enthralled by what volleyball coach Madison Harvey had to say.

“The one thing that makes the best volleyball player isn’t skill, it’s attitude,” she said. “I don’t want to see any of you getting mad at each other because you’re a team. You lift each other up. That’s what I want to see.”

Harvey is a second-year nursing student at Ontario Tech University. Her whole life has revolved around volleyball until last year when she turned to coaching. The drive and motivation she used as a player are now what she tries to get across to her team.

She mentioned a lot of people attributing young girls quitting sports due to them not having the drive or motivation, but that’s not what she sees. While giving instructions or jumping into a drill hands-on, Harvey is doing her part to show how much the girls want to learn with the proper coaching.

“I feel like coaches are impactful in your life no matter what,” Harvey said. She speaks from experience. Her coach from U15 until graduating high school was a big influence on her.

“He helped me not only develop as a player but as a person with developing my self-confidence and stuff like that,” she adds.

A woman in a long sleeve black and white shirt playing with her fingers while listening to a man on her right in a grey long sleeve quarter zip give a speech.
Madison Harvey listening to the head coach of the U13 Durham Attack Crimson team, Roger Gorden, talk to the girls about the practice plan and what they can expect. Photo credit: Samantha Payne

Harvey played volleyball for eight years until multiple concussions made it too difficult for her to continue. With her new-found free time, she wanted to continue to implement volleyball in her life.

“It’s been such a big part of my development as a person. So, I wanted to kind of give back to the club I’ve been playing with my whole life,” she said.

After playing with the Durham Attack for her whole volleyball career she’s decided to try her hand at coaching. Harvey is assistant coach for the U13 girls Durham Attack Crimson.

“I feel like I have a big role as a younger female coach who’s been playing her whole life,” she said. “I can make an impact.”

Roger Gorden, the head coach of the Durham Attack Crimson has seen Harvey’s development since her U13 year when she played with his daughter. “She’s really good because she knows the game. Seeing her transition from player to now a coach is wonderful to see,” he said.

This year marks Harvey’s first time coaching at more than a volunteer level and Gorden says her progress has been notable.

“She was a little hesitant at first very shy, that’s the Madison I know. She’s very quiet. Based on the first week when we started, she tended to watch a lot, now she gets in there and dictates where she wants the girls to go.”

Harvey has had male coaches her whole life. She said that while they’re great in certain aspects, having a female coach gives the players someone they can relate to and be open with.

“Volleyball is so mentally focused and young girls get in their heads a lot. I want to be able to promote self-confidence in the new players coming up,” she said. “I feel like mental aspects of it [volleyball] is always addressed as a negative.”

Team sports are a chance for kids to gain social skills and confidence in themselves, which is exactly what Harvey is trying to teach her team.

“Growing up as a very anti-social kid who didn’t have a lot of friends, and was basically in their room most of the time, doing schoolwork, I feel like sports is a very beneficial thing. It kind of puts you in those uncomfortable situations while still being something you love, if it’s a sport you love,” she said.

The season has just started for the Durham Attack Crimson team and they are getting chances to scrimmage teams before their first official tournament. With the loud and uplifting energy in the gym, it makes sense that they continue to get better every practice.

With her years of experience playing giving her knowledge from a player’s perspective, Harvey doesn’t hesitate to jump into the drills and play with her new-found team. She’s also not afraid to pause the drills for instruction or pull players aside to give them one-on-one talks.

“She’s a great role model for these girls,” said Gorden. “I think the biggest impact she will have on these players and being here is these girls will see that she’s just a young girl like themselves.”