SPECIAL FEATURE (July 10, 2013) -- Summer break for Our Lady of the Lake University's (OLLU) student-athletes usually means a reprieve from homework and tests, quality time with friends and family and an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming season. Coaches try to take a break, as well; however, for most of them, summer is one of the busiest times of the year.
Financial aid packages need to be finalized, student-athletes must be registered and put into classes, and coaches have to ensure that the student-athletes are completing the eligibility process for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) clearinghouse. Plus, they're doing a whole lot more.
Here's a review on how OLLU's coaches are spending their summer.
Vanlandingham is pictured with
son, Cooper, and wife, Amber, in a
summer photo from a few years ago.
Vanlandingham signed Cody Wallace in Cibolo, Texas, in June.
Men's basketball, led by head coach Russell Vanlandingham and assistant coach Ryan Wall, is in a situation it has not had to face since the start of the program in 2009 – having to add more players than the number of returners. With only four members from last year's roster coming back (last year's squad had seven seniors), Vanlandingham has signed 15 new players and still looks to bring in several more before the semester starts in August.
Vanlandingham said that when a team adds so many new members, the key as they enter the upcoming season is trust.
"Players coming in have to trust the way we play and do things," Vanlandingham said.
In between recruiting, Vanlandingham and Wall still have a couple of games to put on the schedule, and they have to put together some fundraisers.
Even though there is a lot to be done before school starts, Vanlandingham tries to find time to do other things, as well.
"There are some crazy days ahead, but I'll still try to take time to get the kids to the water park or the river and find some time to relax." Vanlandingham said.
Vanlandingham is also leading efforts this summer to redo some of the photos and posters in the athletics student lounge that is shared with women's basketball, volleyball and soccer.
Minner and Hernandez also enjoyed
their trip to California Adventure Park.
|Huizar celebrated her educational milestone with her parents,|
Melissa Paloma Huizar and Alex Huizar.
Women's basketball head coach Christopher Minner and assistant coach Valerie Huizar spend their summer months sorting out incoming players, as well as going on a few recruiting trips.
Both coaches also help run Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball activities at the OLLU Mabee Gymnasium in an effort to raise funds. AAU tournaments not only help student-athletes become better basketball players, they also get OLLU's name and its athletic programs out to participants.
"The summer is the only time we have to do a fundraiser, so this is a good opportunity to do that and get our name out." Minner said.
Minner finished the spring semester by walking across the stage to receive his Master of Business Administration in management from OLLU. Shortly afterward, he and girlfriend, Samantha Hernandez, kicked off the summer break with a leisurely trip to southern and northern California. They visited Disneyland, California Adventure Park and Hearst Castle.
"Cars Land at the adventure park was the best attraction," Minner said. They also went wine tasting in Napa Valley. Minner hails from Petaluma, Calif.
And, in July, the two went on another trip to New York, where they were able to catch a game between the Yankees and the Kansas City Royals.
Assistant coach Huizar has had an eventful summer. In early July, she completed her Master of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Texas at Tyler.
Sherman is pictured with
his wife, Megan.
Cross-country/track coach Stephen Sherman describes the process of recruiting as never-ending. This summer, he is finishing up the recruiting for the upcoming 2013-2014 season, as well as working on getting names and contact information together for 2014-2015's group.
The schedule for the men's and women's cross country/track is set and Sherman is now in the process of replacing the apparel for the entire program.
"We are making a major brand switch, and I'm excited for the runners to come in and find out the new direction we will be going in," said Sherman.
Originally from the Galveston area, Sherman and his wife, Megan, spend a lot of time around the Texas Gulf Coast beaches enjoying the summer. He also hopes that he gets to share some summer adventures with soccer coach Shane Hurley.
"Heck, if I'm lucky maybe Coach Hurley will even take me out on one of his 'Ernest Hemingway' [fishing] adventures," said Sherman.
The soccer program with head coach Shane Hurley and assistant coach Arthur Salazar will spend a lot of the summer on camps and tournaments. So far, they have had a soccer camp for children ages 4-18, and they are holding an 8v8 Summer League for high-school girls at OLLU's St. Martin Hall field. This is the third annual summer league, and this year, 12 teams and 150 players are participating.
Both the men's and women's rosters are set for the upcoming season. This gives the coaches an opportunity to focus on recruiting for the 2014 season. As a part of that recruiting process, Hurley will travel to Houston for the Pepsi International Soccer Tournament. The weeklong event will feature teams from around the world as well as from throughout the United States.
Even though Hurley's summer consists of a lot of soccer, he hopes to dedicate some time for other things.
"I live for a couple of days of fishing during the summer," Hurley said, "and hopefully I can take the family to the beach for a couple of days."
When Salazar is not coaching the men's and women's team at OLLU, he is coaching the South Texas Olympic Development Program (ODP) girl's team. This summer, Salazar will travel with his ODP team to Alabama for a tournament.
"There will be some tough games," Salazar said, "but it is a great opportunity to network and for recruiting purposes.
Salazar will not be able to take a vacation this summer, but he does plan to spend lots of quality time with his one-year-old son, Aidan and wife, Colleen.
Tennis head coach Sal Castillo is planning to add a handful of players for the upcoming season. He has already been to California in early June for a recruiting trip, and he will head to Florida later this summer for an international showcase.
"There are a lot of international kids, who want to come to the United States to study and play so that will be a good opportunity to do some recruiting," Castillo said.
To have the summers filled with tennis is something that Castillo does not mind, and if he is not watching other people play, he is playing himself.
"I usually play a couple of tournaments during the summer. I consider that my down time," Castillo said. "I get to relax and my wife enjoys watching me play so that works out pretty well."
Last spring, Castillo finished in second place in the Austria Cup of the Senior World Championship.
Lee held two summer
camps for children.
Volleyball coach Mark Lee does not have to worry about recruiting this summer as he got his roster for the fall season all set. Lee will have the largest roster in the program's history with 22 women representing the Saints' volleyball team.
So, instead of recruiting, Lee and some current and former team members are holding two summer camps at the Mabee Gymnasium for children ages 8-18. Lee also hosted a college showcase for volleyball players in June.
When Lee gets some time off, he tries to play some sand- as well as indoor-volleyball. He also keeps himself busy by taking his kids to various activities throughout the summer.
The newest member of the OLLU coaching staff is head golf coach Alan Baxter, who started in mid-June. He has spent his first weeks catching up with returning players and putting together a team for the upcoming season. However, with little time left before school starts, his possibilities to recruit are limited.
As it looks now, we might bring in one or two new players," Baxter said. "Other than that, we will focus on working with our returners.
Baxter describes the men as a solid team, and he thinks they will have a lot of fun when the season starts up. Right now, he is finishing up the team's fall and spring schedules.
He has had little time left over for a vacation, but he does try to go out and golf when the opportunity arises.
"There is a lot of business golf, but I try to play a couple of tournaments, as well. I do like a little competition."
Kymberly helps her father as a
volunteer coach for the softball team.
Kling is pictured with his daughters Kathryn and Kymberly, their mother, Dee Ann Doebbler, and Kymberly's husband, David William Cavazos.
Women's softball head coach James Kling describes the summer as the busiest time for him and his assistant coach Joseph Contreras. They are both spending most of their summer on the road watching softball tournaments and recruiting.
"From the first week of June to the first week of August, we spend most weekends watching tournaments and doing recruiting," Kling said, "The team is set for the fall season, and now we are recruiting for the following year."
Kling says that he is lucky to only lose a few players every year, making it possible to better recruit the right player who can come in and "fill the shoes of graduating seniors."
In May, Kling took part in his daughter Kymberly's wedding to David William Cavazos. He's hoping to be able to spend some time with them and his other daughter, Kathryn, over the rest of the summer.
"I am planning a long weekend with my kids to get away for a little bit," Kling said.
Soccer begins its season Aug. 23 with games against Texas Lutheran University. Volleyball is up next with the Saints' first match scheduled for Aug. 30. On Aug. 31, Cross-Country will take part in its first meet at Trinity University in San Antonio. Men's golf and tennis will have a few fall tournaments and then play their full schedule in the spring. The basketball teams begin their season in November, and softball will begin competing in February of 2014.