Lee Lamb is a grinder, a dreamer and, as of today, the Star-Advertiser 2016 Girls Volleyball All-State coach of the year.
The Le Jardin second-year coach led the Bulldogs to the Division II state championship this fall, the first in the school’s history. He responded in an Q&A via e-mail with Hawaii Prep World.
HPW: Congratulations on a great season and the championship, Coach.
Lamb: Hope you had a good Thanksgiving. It’s one of the few days I truly get some downtime with the family. If there’s something to be thankful for, that’s it, time with the family.
HPW: How do you feel about the honor?
Lamb: Humbled. There are a lot of great coaches across the State, so to be recognized as Coach of the Year by peers, media, and those that vote on awards like COY is special. Honestly, I’m just grateful to be a part of such an amazing community and for the opportunity to do something I love everyday. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the rest is just gravy.
HPW: The process of LJA’s development — has it been a blur or a marathon?
Lamb: It’s been more of a blur. I’ve only been there for 2 years so I don’t think that can qualify as a marathon! Well, I guess there are situations where you can be some place a short time and it seems like forever, but Le Jardin Academy isn’t one those instances. The athletes have been absolute sponges…you know, the dry kind, that absorbs lots of water. Not only have they been eager, but they bought into the importance of trust and team. A group of hard working, eager to learn, team building young girls that trust…unreal. Time can only fly in an environment like that.
HPW: Your own process as a HS coach and as a club coach has been busy and heavy year-round for years. How long has it been since you had a full year of no coaching?
Lamb: Full year of no coaching…what is that? My wife wishes I’d just take a day off! And we’ve been together since 2002. Kidding aside, it might have been the turn of the century. Once I started coaching, I knew I was going to be doing it for a long time. Back then, and even now, I loved the process of teaching, problem solving, and the potential to impact lives. I’m learning about myself and others every day. I love it. I hope I can stay relevant and have a positive impact on young lives for a long time.
HPW: Who have been your strongest influences as a coach?
Lamb: I’ve been fortunate to be around of lot of great coaches over the years and they’ve all had an influence. Brian Lessard was perhaps the first main influence. He was the head coach of a tiny Catholic school back east where I coached (St. Thomas More Academy in Magnolia, Del.). It was a new private school and the first year I coached there, they had a graduating class of 12 or something ridiculous. Brian was very relational. He understood its value and really focused on developing good relationships with the players. He got that team to a State tournament that year and the next. It’s amazing when I think back on it. I honestly wished I had picked up on how important relationship building was sooner. It was one of those situations where I didn’t see it at first, but then had some type of recall seven years later. It’s an integral part of the process now.
I also have to give Luis Ramirez his due. He afforded me some opportunities when I first arrived on the island, both as a high school coach at Iolani and as a club coach under ASICS Rainbows. I was able to get a lay of the land, learn more about the game, and gain exposure the I worked with him.
And then there are the coaches I work with everyday at Ka Ulukoa — Larry Tuileta, Pono Ma‘a, Charlie Jenkins, Jeff Gaogao, and a long list of other really solid people that push on you to think about the game in different ways. Thinking on it now, if there was a single strongest influence, it’s the collaborative environment that we have at Ka Ulukoa. Being around great minds that you can process with on a regular basis is invaluable. That group is amazing and I’m thankful for them every day.
HPW: How does it feel to be COY?
Lamb: Although COY is about honoring the person at the helm, I think its important to recognize that outstanding seasons typically don’t happen in spite of people or circumstance. You can only be in the running for this type of honor if the coaching staff is aligned with your values. You can only be in the running if you have an administration that supports you. You can only be in the running if your players (and parents) buy in. Everyone in your primary circle is critical to the team’s success. They, the team, deserve a lot more recognition than I do. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an honor to be recognized, but it’s about more than just me. I feel like this should be a team award, especially since everyone at Le Jardin was absolutely amazing this year.