Boys’ volleyball sets up for a new coach

Daniel Cho juggles his job as a nurse while coaching a girls’ club volleyball team at Chelsea Piers and playing for his own national volleyball team. Yet, the new head boys’ volleyball coach, Daniel Cho, still finds time to serve Staples well, pun intended.

Having previously worked with junior varsity, the team members “all view him as a very smart and knowledgeable player and coach,” Chris Delaurentis ’15, a varsity captain, said.

Cho’s love for the sport began at a young age with Cho’s church group volleyball league. He went on to play as an all-state setter for his Trumbull High School team, where he met the man who would lead him to the Staples courts.

“What brought me to Staples? John Shepro,” Cho said without hesitation. Along with being Cho’s coach throughout high school, Shepro is the current Staples AP economics and Environmental Science teacher. Cho is grateful to continue this relationship with a “father figure” he respects immensely and is proud to share his knowledge from Shepro with his own team. “Seeing [Shepro] just brought back nostalgia,” Cho said. “I want to take this opportunity to teach the younger guys or younger generations what I have learned in this sport that I love.”

Cho’s players agree that he definitely has a knack for communicating his knowledge and passion to the team. “He never yells at players but manages to always get his points across, and all the players respect him for it,” captain Jason Bernstein ’15 said.

His personal style is very much based on team improvement rather than individual efforts. Drills focus more on collaboration than individual positions, positively influencing the team chemistry.

“The team become very connected because Dan teaches to play as a unit; he always mentions that you are as strong as your weakest link, and by practicing as a team, our squad has become much stronger,” Jonas Piekara ’16, a varsity player, said.

Cho recognizes team bonding is a priority. He believes the key to success, especially with a small group of only six players on the court, is feeling completely comfortable with one another and having fun as a team.

“I’m very dedicated to the term ‘family’ in the way I play [and] the reason why I play volleyball,” Cho said.

Cho has become a part of the team family, too. “Probably the most difficult thing is just that I want to be on the court with them,” he chuckled. He proudly calls his athletes more than just players to coach but fellow teammates and colleagues, even if he can’t join in the game.

Piekara can attest to this camaraderie and trust between coach and team. If he could describe Cho in one word it would be “relatable. For the three years I’ve known Dan, he’s been an incredibly down to earth guy who shares his common experience from playing the game not too long ago,” Piekara said.

In regards to specific new techniques, Cho emphasizes the importance of a solid defense . The team often practices these drills in a fast-paced, timed setting to get the players thinking on their feet. With two consecutive FCIAC championships already under the team’s belt, team members have high expectations for an “FCIAC three-peat” and winning states.

Despite these challenges for the season, everyone is grateful to have Cho as the new head coach and he has proven to be an asset to the Staples community. “It is an honor to have known and played for Coach Cho for the past three years,” Bernstein said. “And I am looking forward to the up-coming season.”