Elon volleyball alumna Haylie Clark is the newest addition to the Bucknell University volleyball staff after recently accepting the position of assistant coach by the university. The setter from Saint Cloud, Florida, played for five seasons at Elon, graduating with a major in sport management.
After completing her final season playing for Elon in 2022, Clark began job applications to find a coaching position. It just so happened that the first school she applied to would hire her and she fell in love with its campus. Clark said coaching volleyball has been her dream since she came to college.
“I didn’t want to go on the path of playing professionally, just because my body can’t take it anymore, but I knew I wanted to stick around volleyball and make an impact any way that I could,” Clark said.
Head coach Mary Tendler said she wasn’t surprised that Clark wanted to pursue coaching as she had seen the dedication she has to the sport. Tendler said she was thrilled to hear Clark had gotten a position at Bucknell.
“I knew she could get a job because she has a lot going for her, but I was more excited for the fact that she is getting this opportunity at such a good institution,” Tendler said.
Clark has played volleyball since she was 12 years old and said she has always been extremely passionate about the sport, but she didn’t always want to pursue coaching. It wasn’t until she began coaching with the children’s Elon volleyball summer camps where her passion began.
Tendler said she was glad that the program at Elon had such an impact on Clark’s life.
“She’s been working camps every summer for us and does such a great job,” Tendler said. “It's been neat to see her grow throughout the summers and get more and more confident to the point where she is doing things on her own and taking over the court.”
Most recently, Clark coached at Piedmont Volleyball Club and the Volleyballer Training Academy, preparing her for her new career.
“I really loved coaching and I loved sharing my passion for the sport with youth athletes and student athletes as well,” Clark said.
Clark not only grew as a coach at Elon, but as a player herself. Over the course of five seasons, Clark excelled on the court. Clark was named to the 2021 and 2022 all Colonial Athletic Association second teams, the 2022 CAA all preseason first team, and was the 2021 CAA setter of the year.
“Having a successful career was really important,” Clark said. “When you're playing you learn so much more about the game.”
In 2022 alone, she started 26 out of 27 matches for the Phoenix and played in all 109 sets. She racked up 37 double-doubles in her career. Clark also has 2,667 career assists, the fifth all time at Elon. Clark said she was proud of her accomplishments but is excited to transition into coaching.
“It's going to hurt a little bit because I’m not out there playing, but I think that’s going to be something I will have to adjust to,” Clark said.
Tendler said she thinks the transition between playing and coaching will go smoothly for Clark.
“She loves to practice, loves to play, and you can see it when you watch her,” Tendler said. “That competitiveness has benefited our team for the last five seasons and you see the same thing when she coaches. She’s not out there during camp with a group, she's out there and she really wants them to get better. I see the same passion in her playing in her coaching, so I know this is the right move for her and I know she’s going to have a lot of success.”
Clark said she has been inspired by Tendler throughout her time at Elon and not only learned a lot from the program, but learned a lot from her.
“Overall the experience I received as a player under Mary Tendler has taught me so much,” Clark said. “She was such a decorated athlete herself and learning from her and her coaching style is something that is going to help me in the future.”
Tendler said she was pleased to know that she had imparted wisdom onto Clark and is looking forward to watching her in the future.
“That makes me happy to know that I had a small impact on what she’s doing and that she enjoyed her time here and that I was a good fit for her as a coach,” Tendler said.
Clark hopes to take many of the coaching styles that Tendler has and translate it into her relationships with her future athletes.
“I definitely loved how coach Tendler made everyone feel so included,” Clark said. “It felt like a big family. I think the way that she treated her athletes is what I’m going to take away.”
Clark will begin her position next week and start recruiting athletes in February. Upon giving her final advice, Tendler said for Clark to enjoy her journey.
“Bucknell hired her for a reason,” Tendler said. “She has a lot that she can offer and she will learn that as she goes, what the expectations are of the head coach and she’s just going to grow in that program just like she has here at Elon. Enjoy the journey of coaching. I feel so fortunate to be able to coach for so long and to see one of my players just starting out is really kinda cool and I’m just so excited for her.”