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Coaches of Walnut: Aubrey Caires

After the former varsity volleyball coach Angela McElroy stepped back from the position, Aubrey Caires was approached to be the new head coach in March 2020.

“Taking on the whole program at a varsity level has been challenging but also exciting,” Caires said. “Whenever I’m with my [players], I just want them to be grateful for every opportunity they get to play especially within the last year. It shows them that every opportunity to step on the court is a blessing and not always given, so you have to take advantage of every moment you have to play.”

In sixth grade, one of Caires’ close friends played volleyball and her dad who was a coach wanted Caires to play because of her height. Caires started out playing recreationally before transitioning to play for Silver State Volleyball Club.

“I like that volleyball is a team sport because it literally can’t be played with one or two people. You have to have a good relationship with your teammates, respect one another and work hard together,” Caires said. “Since volleyball is so versatile like indoors, on the beach or on the grass, it’s something you can take with you and play until you’re old.”

Caires played volleyball in high school and her team advanced to play at the state championships in Nevada. While attending Whittier College, Caires played on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Women’s Volleyball Team. In her sophomore year, the team made program history by making it to the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament. Her position on the teams was an opposite who is responsible for blocking the opponent’s outside hitter and setting when the setter is unavailable.

“All my closest friends played and we were all on the volleyball team, so it was really fun to go to practices every day and just be with everyone. In college, it was the same thing as high school where my teammates ended up being my closest friends and they still are to this day,” Caires said. 

Caires’ early experience with coaching was when she was 17 years old and she was an assistant coach for a club team at Silver State Volleyball Club. After graduating college, Caires started coaching in Southern California and has coached for volleyball clinics and junior varsity (JV) programs such as JV boys’ volleyball at Diamond Ranch High School.

“Being around young athletes who have so much time left in the sport is really inspiring. I know how exciting it is to be at that time of career with volleyball where you’re playing with your friends and have all these years ahead of you to continue playing, so that’s why I like coaching,” Caires said.

Despite the cancellation of volleyball season this year because of COVID-19, Caires plans to [future plans] for next year.

“The most challenging thing this year has been following all the [COVID-19] rules and planning practices around that. But the most fun part is getting to meet all the new girls, their personalities and their relationships with each other because I remember that being one of my favorite parts of playing with my teammates,” Caires said.

By Alison Ho, Media Editor-in-chief

Photo courtesy of Aubrey Caires