New UTEP head coach Ben Wallis has a passion for volleyball. The energetic Wallis was hired to bring a winning program to the Sun City after experiencing a wealth of success with his previous employer, Interstate 10 rival New Mexico State University.
Wallis spent the last six years in Las Cruces as associate head coach. The Aggies averaged 22.7 wins during his tenure.
Wallis is looking to stamp the UTEP program with a similar run of excellence. That starts with buy-in from the players to Wallis’ newly installed philosophy.
“[The players are] putting in the extra effort,” Wallis said. “They’re putting in the extra time and watching the extra video. Those are things that we explained to them, that they have to do if they want to be good and want to be competitive quickly. I’m really proud of the effort they are putting in it now, three-and-a-half months into this. It shows that they care and want to do well.” The El Paso community has shown great support for the UTEP volleyball program in the past, and Wallis wants to continue building on that.
“The fans will see a team that has a strong desire to win, but they can also expect to see a team that interacts with them,” he said. “We’re going to leave our players on the floor and let them talk to our supporters. We’re going to be out in the community, and we’ve already gone to several events and let our players interact with the El Paso community.”
El Paso is known as a hard-working, blue- collar type of town. With many collegiate programs utilizing hashtags to define their team’s culture, Wallis has adopted #HardHatHaven.
“We laid out some things that a Miner exemplifies to them,” Wallis said. “Like the light on top of your hard hat. That was the thing that I wore into our first meeting, that hard hat. I said, ‘This hat that I have on top of my head is what we will exemplify in the way we practice and the way we train.’ This is the hard hat haven and the home to blue- collar grinders.”
- Drew Bonney