Lausanne, Switzerland, March 22, 2020 - In a second part to our series on world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Parades, we talk with their coach Scott Davenport about a remarkable journey.
If you take a right at Hermosa Beach Pier and walk towards the iconic Manhattan Beach, you will usually see Scott Davenport coaching beach volleyball. He is the head coach of current world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes and the Canadians both suggest that Scott has a special talent for seeing things that other coaches just don’t.
Davenport says the team's 2019 season was ‘historic’ as they swept the world's best away, winning the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Hamburg, the Vienna Major, the 3-star event in Edmonton and the AVP stop at Manhattan Beach.
“Winning the World Championships was definitely one of our goals and that was an amazing experience for the team. We didn’t start the tourney off very strong, but continued to improve every match. That event was a huge growth experience for our team. The girls were tested in many different ways on the court and learned a lot about who they are and what they need to do together to overcome adversity.
Pavan keeps the ball in play in Edmonton
“Following up the World Championships with wins in Edmonton, Vienna and Manhattan Beach, and ending the year with a final win at the AVP event in Hawai'i made it a very special year for us. We had some ups and downs along the way, but we took away a lot of positive learning experiences.”
Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan lift the World Championship trophy in Hamburg.
The American, who values their process, mindfulness, work ethic, willingness to learn and attention to detail, says the team are still looking to improve in every aspect of the game, but wants to see the team improve on their serving and grounding the ball earlier in the rally.
“We are always looking to improve in everything but specifically we’re focusing on being more of a threat from the service line. I’d also like to see our first ball kill percentage improve on both sideout and in transition.”
Davenport, 48, started coaching in 1998 as a way to pay his bills whilst playing on the prestigious AVP Tour. In 2010, whilst coaching indoor, a former beach partner asked for his help and that's when his journey to a World Championship winning coach begun. His journey to the very top of the coaching ranks hasn’t been plane sailing and is a path that included the tragic loss of his wife Wendi and mother to their two children Luke, 10, and Devin, 5, to cancer in 2017. An unimaginable circumstance for most people. Thankfully Scott has found some peace in coaching the sport that he loves.
“That was a very difficult time and transition for our whole family. There’s no way to prepare for something like that. The hardest part for me is seeing my kids go through losing their mother and the effect it has on them every day.”
“Volleyball has always been a sanctuary for me away from any negative aspects in my life. So, diving back into it after Wendi passed was kind of therapeutic - in a way I never would have thought with the World Championships.”
When asked to sum up what juggling his family life with coaching the world champions is like, Scott explains the reality of being away from home for periods of time and how he balances it with coaching.
“It’s probably the most difficult thing for me to do. Especially now that my kids are participating in many different activities. I’d like to be able to share those experiences and be there to support them, more often. My family and friends help out with taking care of the kids while I’m away. Luckily Sarah and Melissa are very understanding with life priorities. So we find a happy medium when it comes to scheduling my travel during competition season. And we have an amazing team around us that fill in the gaps, where needed. But it’s definitely not easy.”
“As the saying goes, ‘it takes a village’.”
Sarah Pavan on Scott Davenport:
“Scott has been the only beach coach I’ve ever had, and I credit him entirely in my transformation into a beach volleyball player. Scott and I are very similar in how we analyse the game, and in how we communicate, so we hit it off immediately. I soaked up everything he had to teach me technically and tactically, fully understanding that I was coming into the relationship with absolutely zero beach volleyball knowledge. We respect each other very much, but challenge each other to be better, both professionally and as people, and I think that is why this has lasted for so long. We love each other like family, but we aren’t afraid to call the other person out if we have to. That trust and understanding helps us get through the tough moments.”
Melissa Humana-Paredes on Scott Davenport:“Scott is committed and knowledgable. He is a very technical coach who sees things not many others do. He's got a good eye for technical errors and is very good at creating a strategy on tendencies. I've learned so much about how to play the game like chess from him. I think I've also seen significant improvement in my technique from him (but I know there's still a way to go!). He also has a family, as a single-dad of two young kids, and he still shows up to practices day in and day out and gives us his attention and time. It's easy to forget about the team behind the team and all those that work hard for your goal, but they deserve to be on the court with us getting the same credit we do.”
Read more: Talking with the world champions (Part 1 - Melissa Humana-Paredes)
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour