DALLAS (April 27, 2019) – Lloy Ballstands tall on the volleyball court, a recognizable figure at a height (6-8) hovering half a foot or more over most of the tallest players standing next to him this weekend in Dallas for the USA Volleyball Girls 18 Junior National Championships.
Yet, the four-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic Games gold medalist has largely flown under the radar in this weekend as his Team Pineapple opponents were only 6-years-old or younger the last time he competed in the Olympics.
For sure, Ball’s own players know his background and have benefitted from his loaded volleyball IQ. Olivia Foley, Team Pineapple’s starting setter, has taken Ball’s advice to heart.
“It has been a great experience,” Foley said. “He knows the game very well and he teaches it very well. Knowing that he has played so much volleyball just really helps me. For having a guy coach, he tells you right from wrong, straight up. It has been the best experience ever.”
Ball started Team Pineapple six years ago, giving youth volleyball players in Angola, Indiana, and the surrounding northeast Indiana region a place to learn the sport.
While Ball may seem intense on the court as a coach, much the way he was as a player, he knows how to motivate players with a balance through positive feedback.
“After some people makes a mistake, he gets on them and then he rewards afterwards,” Foley said. “Some coaches don’t do that, and that discourages players who may not play again. He rewards players at the end of the day, and it makes it better and them wanting to come back to play for him.”
Emily Scheumann, Foley’s Team Pineapple teammate, agrees that Ball challenges the team to push themselves to the limit.“It is exciting. He knows a lot of things. This is a great learning experience,” Scheumann said. “He is a hard coach to play under as he expects a lot out of you. But that is not a bad thing in the sense that he knows how to push you and what you need to work on.”
Scheumann said that Ball offers advice on the court, which also goes to life in general.
“Always work hard. Control the things you can control. Never give up,” Scheumann said. “Play for your love of the game.”
Ball has adapted his coaching philosophy from one of his own mentors, his father Arnie. The elder Ball coached Lloy as a youngster and in college, including at Purdue University Fort Wayne where was head coach for 35 years. Lloy has now followed into his father’s footsteps into coaching, and continues many of the same traits.
“His energy,” Lloy said on what he gained most from his father. “I try to give energy if the kids need it. I stand up, rip and roar just the way I played. If they don’t need it, I just try to stay calm and just give them good direction. Just knowing the team and the players, what they need and don’t need each time is something my dad taught me. I think competitively, we are by far one of the least athletic teams here (in Dallas). We can try to make up for that with 100 percent effort. My dad prided himself in that. I prided myself on that. So hopefully the kids in the program will pride themselves in that.”
Ball said he started the club for his daughter after he moved back home following his playing career.
“This is our sixth year with club volleyball,” Ball said. “I started it for my daughter. We had four teams, and now we have 24 teams and a new facility.” Team Pineapple trains out of the Ball Sports Academy in Angola, and the facility has three full-sized indoor courts.
Ball, who usually coaches the younger age groups in his club, took on the responsibilities of coaching the oldest age group this year.
“I usually coach (my daughter’s) age group. I coach 10, 11 or 12,” Ball said. “This year I needed someone to help teach that team to pass – teaching passing is not one of my forte’s. So I decided to take this 18s team. A couple of these girls were in our original group back six years ago. I so thought it was a good way to send them off. It is a good 18s team, club level, not a great team. But I love the girls. They work hard and use their God-given abilities the best they can and I am glad to be here.”
Ball has coached Team Pineapple into the Patriot Division gold bracket play where it will play Sunshine 18 South Bay at 8 a.m. CT on Sunday following a 2-1 day on Saturday. Overall, Team Pineapple is 4-3 in the tournament.
As part of Team Pineapple, Ball is giving back to the sport he so loves at the grassroots levels. With his vision, he is aiding his home area to give kids more opportunities to play the sport.
“These kids don’t have opportunities like they do in Southern California, or people here in Dallas or what they may have in Denver,” Ball said. “To have a facility with over 300 student-athletes there, giving them opportunities that I got is what I think was what my calling was after I was done playing. We make it cost-effective. I know my demographic. We are the least expensive club in northeast Indiana, yet we run the same schedule that everybody else does because we are blessed with a lot of great financial partners to make it happen.”