Mercer announced the hiring of Schroeder July 25 as the new indoor and beach volleyball coach. He will replace Damian Elder, who left for personal reasons, according to the program.
"This is a great day for Mercer volleyball and Mercer University as a whole," Mercer Athletics Director Jim Cole said. "Coach Schroeder is a proven winner with experience in the Southern Conference, and I cannot wait to see how he takes our indoor and beach volleyball programs to the next level as we aim for conference championships."
Only 11 days after the announcement of his hiring, Schroeder took the floor in Hawkins Arena for the team’s first preseason practice.
“It really has been like drinking from a firehose,” Schroeder said. “The transition has been hectic. It’s been 100 miles per hour.”
The ball may not be traveling quite that fast this fall, but Schroeder said the team is going to play a better style of volleyball—faster than the players have ever played.
“We’re going to be a little bit more aggressive—going to be more of an attacking team,” Schroeder said. “We’re not going to sit back and wait for teams to error us into wins. We’re going to aggressively go out and search for wins.”
Schroeder is the program’s all-time wins leader. He comes to Macon after coaching at Samford for the last eight years. During that span, the Bulldogs went 169-86 and won two Southern Conference championships.
“Samford took a chance on me,” Schroeder said. “I had no head coaching experience, but [the athletics director] saw something. He took a chance, and we rewarded the school with some championships.”
During his time at Samford, Schroeder said he learned that aggressive style of play can be very successful in the Southern Conference. Understanding that, as well as being familiar with some of Mercer’s players already, leads Schroeder to believe that style of play will work well for the Bears.
“Knowing [Morgan MacGilvary] and [Emily Krogman], those type of kids and playing against them, I knew that if I could get them a ball in a different tempo, if we could kind of flow into our offense—there’s a rhythm to our offense—if we could find that rhythm for those players, that they’ll have more success,” Schroeder said.
Samford provided several benefits for the volleyball team to be successful—such as the facilities and support—and Schroeder said Mercer has those same benefits. He said the two schools are very similar, and that the building blocks are in place at Mercer to build a championship team.
But his duties won’t be just indoors. Schroeder will also coach the beach program, which now enters its sixth year of competition. He will enter the position with no beach volleyball coaching experience, but he said he had a “very long and extensive playing career as a beach player out of college.”
“The training and the game management and all that sort of stuff is going to be no problem,” Schroeder said. “What I’m doing right now in the offseason is trying to get my head wrapped around scheduling and trying to get my head wrapped around practice schedules—what we’re doing on a weekly basis, [and] what we’re doing in the fall when we’re out of season.”
The transition may have been even faster than the pace Schroeder wants his team to play, but he said he has enjoyed getting out of the office and working with the team in live action.
“What’s been fun about it has been getting in the gym with the girls. They’ve been very responsive. They’re working hard,” Schroeder said. “It’s been nuts in the office, but the release—the fun stuff—has been in the gym.”