It's been a busy spring for new University of Tennessee at Chattanooga volleyball coach Travis Filar.
After leaving an assistant coaching job at North Carolina in February to succeed Lisa Rhodes, Filar has worked hard to relocate his family to Chattanooga, meet and assess his new team and prepare for the first season as a head coach.
Then on June 3, his wife, Natalie, delivered their second child, Luke. They have a 2-year-old daughter, Savanna Grace.
Still, Filar said, he had sufficient opportunity to get things started with the Lady Mocs.
"I came in at a perfect time and had eight weeks with the team in the gym," he said last week. "There were so many things to do, but my focus has been being in the gym training our team and recruiting for the future."
Last season the Lady Mocs were 12-20 overall and 7-9 in Southern Conference play. They must replace graduating seniors Bailee Chastain and Courtney Barnes, but Filar said he feels they are capable of making the changes needed to compete for a SoCon title in 2011.
"We were really excited when we got here to find that a lot of the pieces to build a championship program are already in place with the kids that are already here," he said. "We have to focus on training them to get them better, to get them more competitive and to understand a level of where we want to go."
UTC will return 2010 SoCon libero of the year Paula Passmore. The junior from Merritt Island, Fla., led the league with 5.41 digs per set last season. Filar also will look to senior middle blocker Ellie Kuhn and juniors Megan Ernd and Christina Teter for leadership.
Teter, a former Red Bank standout, said Filar has rejuvenated the team.
"It's definitely nice having a new change," she said. "Whenever a new coach comes in, everyone wants to work harder to impress the new coach. Structurally, he's changing a lot of the things we're doing, and I think we've been doing a great job adjusting. Hopefully it will all come together in the fall and we'll have a great season."
Despite having coached at universities such as UNC and Kentucky with more resources, Filar said he has enjoyed the challenge of working at the mid-major level. As a native of Davidson, N.C., and graduate of Furman University, he said he understands the limited resources of SoCon programs.
"I like this level. I like the fact that you have to work a little harder," he said. "But I wouldn't have left a great place like North Carolina if I didn't think most of the things that we needed were in place to build a championship program."
Contact Jim Tanner at email@example.com or 423-757-6478.