Ed Welch carries a red book with him called A Season in Words.
It has a chapter on how to communicate with your team as a coach, what to say before – and after – an important game.
But sometimes, words from a book aren’t enough. After 50 years of coaching, and even with his book to help, Welch still finds it difficult to find the right words.
“It’s always a difficult period of time that you go through. What do you say after you win? What do you say after you lose?
“How do you dry tears?”
Welch’s women’s volleyball team lost the Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association championship game on Sunday in front of a home audience at the Lady Beaverbrook Gym.
The Mount Saint Vincent Mystics took the game three sets to none (25-12, 25-21, 25-21).
Before MSVU’s match point, the STU fans stood up and cheered for the women, who were ranked second coming into the championship.
It’s MSVU’s second championship title in three seasons.
The Tommies beat the top-ranked MSVU almost exactly a week ago in their own gym in Halifax and were on a 10-game winning streak before heading into the game.
But this time, the team didn’t bring their A-game, captain and fifth-year player Kelsey Knowles said.
“We weren’t reading them as well as we could have been. That would have made a difference for us. Reading them and getting the passes.”
She suggested the format of the ACAA championship, where teams have to play their best volleyball over 24 hours, makes it hard to sustain good play.
“When it comes down to one day, it’s really, really tough.”
Welch, who lobbied to have the tournament held at the Tommies’ home base of the South Gym instead of the LBR Gym, said the team played its best volleyball on Saturday but couldn’t keep it going.
“Some people felt that the championship was yesterday when they won and they played well.”
The team has been part of Knowles’ life for five years. Now an education student at STU, Knowles has used up the last of her ACAA eligibility.
Gabrielle Boutilier, a fifth-year, has also played her last game for STU.
“They’ve been tremendous leaders. They’ve been captains, co-captains, most improved, most valuable player,” Welch said.
“They’ve received a lot of awards but what you’re known for is what you give rather than what you get. And both of these girls have given all the heart and they’ve given everything.”