Trip to Indiana brings assistant coach back home

Ben Goessling

Minnesota volleyball assistant coach David Boos knew this weekend would eventually come.

The former assistant from Indiana has been preparing himself for the trip back to the Hoosiers’ University Gym since he left the team for Minnesota in July.

But there’s just something about all those players he taught staring back at him – not as a coach, but as an opponent – Boos isn’t ready for yet.

“I’d rather not compete against people I’m so close with,” he said. “I’m sure it won’t be the first or last time I go through this, but it’s going to be awkward.”

The eighth-ranked Gophers (20-3, 7-1 Big Ten) travel to Ohio State on Friday and Indiana on Saturday, giving Boos his first chance to match wits with his former team.

Boos served as an assistant at Indiana from 1999-2001 and recruited or coached every player on the Hoosiers roster.

Which means the coaching part of Boos’ job this weekend is easy.

“I put the (Indiana game film) in, and my immediate thought was, ‘Why am I watching this?’ I know everything they do,” he said.

The tough part of the weekend comes when Boos has to put his personal feelings aside and concentrate on helping Minnesota get a win.

He accepted the Minnesota job only three weeks before the Gophers began practicing for the 2002 season. After moving out in three days, Boos didn’t have time to say goodbye to any of his players, most of whom weren’t on campus at the time.

“I called them all individually after I left, and I definitely still keep tabs on them,” he said. “I cheer for them when they’re not playing us.”

Head coach Mike Hebert, who experienced a similar situation when he left Illinois for Minnesota in 1996, told Boos coaching against a former team is part of the job, but he also expects Boos will treat the weekend differently.

“He wants to go back and get a win,” Hebert said. “I’m sure there will be some people who won’t be happy to see him in maroon and gold, and he’s got a bunch of friends down there.

“There’s a little bit to that for him.”

The Gophers’ primary concern this weekend is maintaining their perfect 10-0 record away from the Sports Pavilion against what might be the toughest pair of road matches they have faced this year.

Ohio State, picked by conference coaches to win the Big Ten, has won three straight conference matches after losing three starters to injuries in a 0-5 start. The Buckeyes (9-8, 3-5) now have their original starting lineup healthy and intact.

Indiana (14-6, 4-4) also boasts a three-match winning streak and beat Illinois – who handed Minnesota its only Big Ten loss – last weekend.

But for Boos, his return to Bloomington this weekend will be about more than wins and losses.

“It will be a new experience for me,” he said. “I have mixed feelings about going back, but I’m excited to see everybody.”

Ben Goessling covers volleyball and welcomes comments at [email protected]