Anna Collier leading Women of Troy in 2012

9/23/2011

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It is not always easy to look past the bikini-clad athletes that have dominated the beach volleyball scene. Those fans able to look away, however, have surely noticed a constant coaching presence on the sandy sidelines.

That would be Anna Collier.

Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh and Nicole Branagh are just a few of the many beach volleyball stars Collier has coached, along with Holly McPeak and Nancy Reno in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and Annette Davis and Jenny Johnson in the 2000 Sydney Games.

Collier is charged with developing the next generation of beach volleyball stars as the coach of the new USC women's sand volleyball team, scheduled to debut in spring 2012.

"USC wanted somebody with the experience necessary to set a good foundation for the program, and hopefully win right away," Collier said.

Collier's style is unique because she emphasizes track workouts, as she served as the women's cross-country and track and field coach at Santa Monica College. She was also the chair of the kinesiology and athletics department at Santa Monica College before coming to USC.

"Everybody needs to know how to run track to a certain degree," Collier said. "When we train, I utilize a lot of running. I can help [my players] by incorporating some of the drills that track and field athletes use to increase speed and jumping ability."

She can empathize with student-athletes interested in playing indoor and sand volleyball. While attending USC, Collier, who was then known as Anna Biller, competed with the track and field, volleyball, and swimming teams.

Collier played beach volleyball professionally for seven seasons before beginning her coaching career in 1990.

With the season a few months away, Collier's squad is scheduled to train at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica until the scheduled facility is built on the space currently occupied by outdoor basketball courts adjacent to Parking Structure X. The plan is for USC to host the first sand volleyball national championship this season.

Scoring is expected to be match play similar to tennis, with five teams of doubles from each school competing to be the first to earn three victories, Collier said.

Nike is still developing the uniforms, but NCAA rules will require the midriff to be covered.

Players coming to USC on a sand volleyball scholarship will not be allowed by the NCAA to play indoor volleyball. Student-athletes on indoor volleyball scholarships, however, can play sand volleyball.

Geena Urango, who played four seasons of indoor volleyball at USC, will receive the first sand volleyball scholarship. Five players are scheduled to train with Collier in the fall, with players from the indoor volleyball team filling out the rest of the squad in the spring.

"I believe strongly in all indoor players training on the sand," Collier said. "Indoor in recent years has become very specialized by position. In sand volleyball, you have to do it all, so you become a better all-around player."

Since being hired in July, Collier has worked closely with indoor volleyball coach and director Mick Haley and the sand program's assistant coach Cookie Stevens, who holds the same position with the indoor team.

"I am very fortunate to have Mick and Cookie's experience to help guide me through the administrative issues of starting an emerging sport," Collier said. "I am good to go with the coaching aspect, but I have not coached at the NCAA Division I level, and there are a lot of rules and regulations."

Collier did not hesitate when asked about her immediate goal for the program.

"I want to make sure that we create the kind of program USC can be proud of," Collier said.

 

-Article courtesy Daily Trojan

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