Q&A: Sam Tu’ivai, Men’s Volleyball Head Coach
GPRC Wolves Athletics is pleased to announce the return of head coach, Sam Tu’ivai. Tu’ivai. Tu’ivai, who coached the GPRC Wolves Women’s Volleyball team in 2016, will be joining the men’s program this season.
We caught up with Tu’ivai to get his thoughts on coming back to GPRC.
What excites you about being the new Men’s Volleyball Coach for the GPRC Wolves?
Competing again. I can’t wait to be back on the courtside with a great group of athletes. I’m looking forward to working with a new team and developing new skills to better myself as a coach and us as a team unit.
I was coaching at the high school level after my time with the Wolves Women’s team, so it’s going to be really awesome to come back up to that higher level of playing. I’m looking forward to the exciting challenge ahead.
What made you decide to be a coach?
Volleyball has changed my life. It gave me a ton of incredible opportunities from travelling around the world to meeting people that are still to this day my closest friends. I decided to become a coach to give back to the community, share my experiences, and showcase what sport can do for you. I love creating good memories with athletes and other coaches.
What are the highlights of your career path that brought you to GPRC?
This is a tough one because everywhere I go, I feel like there’s always a milestone in the memories. The memories mean more to me than any award or title.
I did play professionally for multiple years for my home country, New Zealand’s National team. I was fortunate to have four incredible years in U Sports at Brandon University followed by an ACAC Player of the Year title with Lakeland College.
Being named ACAC Coach of the Year with the Wolves women’s team was also a huge highlight for me.
I’ve been fortunate to coach and work with young high school athletes at the 3A level achieving a gold and silver provincial medal my two years there. Mentoring for the Wolves Club and Grande Prairie Beach Volleyball program is also high on my list.
What do you want GPRC athletes to know about you?
I am here to make them better athletes than they were yesterday.
What’s one thing you think every coach should know?
Every coach needs a coach. I’ve learned that no matter where you are, you can always learn, grow and progress. Every coach should have a mentor and opportunity to continue to get better. Another big one would be for coaches to remember that progress takes time.
How would your athletes describe your coaching style?
Based on feedback, I hear the most that I’m patient, passionate, considerate and straightforward. I’m definitely a direct coach, but I’m also leading my athletes down a path for them to make their own decisions. During a game, an athlete is going to make split second decisions and it’s up to me as a coach to guide them down a path where they are continuously making smart, strategic ones. At the end of the season, I want my athletes running the strategy and making the plays because then they are more invested and engaged. It’ll make their victories that much sweeter and make the lessons that much more understandable.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
I enjoy outdoor activities, even in the winter. I can’t stay inside for a long time. I love to play golf, work out, and hike, and recently I’m getting more into skiing and skating. I spent so long not being able to learn to ski or skate due to the risk of injury when I played professionally, so it’s been a lot of fun now getting to learn.
I also enjoy making sure my lawn is in top shape and of course, doing whatever I can do to make sure my fiancée is happy.
Final thoughts on the opportunity of a fresh season ahead?
I’m looking forward to a competitive season with a great group of athletes. It’s going to be great getting to learn from one another and making this season into one we can all be proud of.