‘Live and Die as a Team’

Shun Hasegawa

“My expectation is to go to the playoffs or at least close. This is the best year with the highest chance to make it since we’ve had a volleyball program here.” Third year coach Ken Goon commented in an interview with Mass Media a week before the first game.

Goon is confident enough to believe that this will be the season for the Beacons to rise: with eight great players, including freshman Agata Matel (six-foot-three-inches tall), and five other experienced players returning. “We have one dominant player in Matel. She doesn’t have all the techniques yet, but she can definitely dominate the game in division three. We have another star in Kassandra Rateau in defense. Though our setter Juliane Farias injured her knee. Hopefully she can play the first game.”

The Beacons were 3-22 overall and 1-7 against the Little East Conference teams last year to be ranked at seventh place among eight contenders. “Last year was a rebuilding year. We had good potential individually. But we were inexperienced as a team,” Goon commented.

Speed is the key that Goon thinks the team needs to unlock the magic door to more wins this year. “Our philosophy is to pass balls well to others. Because we don’t have many tall players, we got to move balls fast to beat other teams who are much taller than we are. In reality, passing is the most important thing in volleyball. If we pass, set, and shoot balls fast, we can be dominant. As long as we pass balls quickly and consistently, our opponents will make mistakes.”

As for defense, the addition of Matel will boost the team up, “Other teams have such a slow offense. It’s going to be our big advantage because we have Agata. She can easily follow their balls to block shots.”

When asked about team ethics, Goon stressed the slogan ,”Live and die as a team.” Even with Matel’s superior abilities, Goon stressed that teamwork was a priority. “I expect everybody to come practice on time and give 100%. As long as we play hard and are competitive, even if we are lost, I’m happy. Also I emphasize that every point isn’t a credit of one player. We can’t shoot and point without a pass, set, or serve.”

Goon so far has been pleased with his players’ commitment to the team. “They must love the game. They love to sacrifice their time because they have passion for the sport.”

Demanding 100% from not just his players, Goon himself is an enthused devotee of the sport. He regularly works a day-job at a Brighton hospital before he commutes to the Harbor to coach the Beacons from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. Though his job on campus pays less compared with his previous coaching position at UConn, he doesn’t think coming to UMass was an irrational decision. He can handle two jobs because this is the sport he loves. “Other players and coaches took time to teach me how to play. So now I spend time to teach others to keep community. I try to get them to the highest level possible regardless of how skilled they are,” Goon said.

Since the Beacons are only eight players strong, Goon and his team are looking for those who are interested in sharing their passion, experienced or not. Goon can be reached at [email protected] or 617-287-7859.

The Beacons are scheduled to play five away games before their first home game on Thursday, September 23, against Suffolk University.