BY HANNAH LA LIBERTE
Photo courtesy of COD Athletics. COD 2018 volleyball team.
College of the Desert’s volleyball is making positive changes for a successful season. I sat down with COD’s indoor and beach volleyball head coach, Marion Champion and she gave me the inside scoop on the program.
Champion played college volleyball at Delta Junior College where she was awarded All State honors, leading her team to an 8th place finish in the state. After transferring to Cal State East Bay, Champion went on to break the school’s record for most kills in a single season. After graduating, she was inducted into Cal State East Bay’s Hall of Fame. Champion can relate firsthand to her players at the junior college level.
Champion started coaching at COD in 2011, and was an assistant coach three years prior. Before coming to COD, she had been coaching club volleyball. In 1998, the coach here at COD reached out to her and promised her that she could play and coach as well if she helped him lead the team. Coach Champion states that the program has grown over the years from the increasing level of play from the team. “They recently started a beach doubles program last year,” she said. “It’s a fun atmosphere and [the program] offers year round training for the girls.”
The COD volleyball team has attracted student transfers from Canada and Washington state, which are both firsts for the program. “Both [students] have family that live here,” said Champion, “and have been coming to the desert since they were little. That’s the nice thing about the Coachella Valley, its a little community, but it has a big city feel.”
Two years ago the COD volleyball program switched conferences into the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference from the Foothill Conference. Coach Champion said that switching conferences was extremely challenging, but pushed them to be a better team. Another positive this year is the players now have fit bits, provided by the team’s fundraising efforts. The fit bits track the girls progress, and starting this season, they have added a heath and fitness regiment to their training.
COD volleyball has also made the local news. KESQ had three of the players on for an interview along with Champion’s co-head coach, Detlev Rothe. “Never before have they had this kind of exposure and chance to get their name really out there,” Champion said. “It used to be that players were sometimes ashamed that they stayed in the valley and didn’t leave straight out of high school for a 4-year program. For different reasons, players are not always ready to leave home. COD is a good option for those not ready to leave and the school has done a lot the last couple years to improve its image and offer students a better learning environment, one they can be proud of.”
COD’s volleyball program is truly in the hands of an experienced, driven woman that deserves praise for what she’s done to help the girls throughout the years. COD volleyball is a family oriented program and the players and coaching staff spend a lot of time together during season which Champion says she can’t imagine doing with a better group of people.
Champion recently started a new position at COD as the new public information officer. Before COD, she worked for 15 years at Imperial Irrigation District.