Southern Oregon University Athletic Interviews. Photo Credit Bob Palermini, www.palermini.com
Recently, the Siskiyou interviewed the head volleyball coach and compliance officer, Josh Rohlfing. Rohlfing, a Southern Oregon native, just finished his 15th season at SOU while the volleyball team finished 9th in the season. In 2019, he was awarded NAIA West Region Coach of the Year, and going into this 2021 season, Rohlfing led the Raiders to seven National Tournaments and six Cascade Conference titles.
Before coaching at SOU, Rohlfing first attended Lane Community College for a few years to play basketball but was injured. It was there that he took a volleyball class and got interested in coaching the sport. He eventually transferred to SOU and graduated from the school with a degree in Health Promotion. While his sister was playing at SOU, Rohlfing was an assistant coach for the team. This furthered his interest in coaching at a higher level. But before coming to coach at SOU, Rohlfing coached at Ashland high school for ten years and holds an impressive record from his time there.
Rohlfing coached volleyball officially after returning from the Eugene area and was recruited to be an assistant at SOU for the volleyball team. “Through that year [of assisting], it was really obvious that this was going to be my life’s ambition… but it was never a thing where I was like ‘I’m going to be a coach at Southern Oregon University.’ It was more about ‘I’m going to be a coach at the highest level I can coach, and that doesn’t mean Division I, II, III. It just meant that I’m going to be the best I’m capable of being in this,” Rolfing added on coaching and how he came to be at SOU.
But coaching isn’t all that Rohlfing does at SOU.
In the athletic department, Rohlfing has two main roles: head volleyball coach and compliance officer. As the volleyball coach, Rohlfing handles multiple parts. He works on putting together the video and film, the strength and conditioning program, agility workouts, position group work, and general practices for the whole team. As the compliance officer, Rohlfing manages athlete eligibility and works to ensure that the athletes at SOU are following the rules and regulations, which fall into categories like term credit hours or final grades. One thing Rohlfing says about this process is, “I’ll meet with some student-athletes here and there, and then I’ll meet with the coaches in the summertime. That one is really important because we look at the whole year out in advance.” In those meetings, Rohlfing takes time with other coaches at SOU to make sure that all of their athletes are on track and follow the rules of eligibility.
One of Rolfing’s favorite moments as a coach comes when one of his student-athletes finally overcame a mental barrier. “I could tell that she was on the cusp of quitting. And we have something that we do as a physical test, and the test was something that she just in her brain could not pass… I knew that this athlete could be just a stud on the court and as a leader, but she’s got to get through her brain to be able to do it…so one summer, I just said ‘here’s the deal. We need to get past this and you’re gonna get past it. And I know you are on the edge of quitting…’ so I said, ‘you’re gonna read The Secret, and we’re gonna talk about it tomorrow.’ She came back the next day, and she goes ‘coach, that changed my life. I know I can do this.’ The next time she did the test, she passed… it wasn’t about the book… it was being able to frame it in a way that works for you,” Rohlfing said in one of his most memorable moments.
For future coaches, Rohlfing advises, “don’t take yourself so seriously. You’re gonna make mistakes. You’re gonna absolutely make a ton of mistakes. And with every one of those mistakes, it’s going to teach you a lesson. And be humble. Show humility when you make a mistake, own it, show it, acknowledge it, don’t try to be above it… acknowledge that you’re a human being and you’re going to move on… and be a student of life, be a student of whatever you want to do. It’s the most important thing if you want to be good at something. You’ve got to find out the background on it. You got to find out the nuts and bolts on it… No one’s gonna give you a script that’s going to fit you as a coach. So I think the number one thing is to find your way. Continue to educate yourself and just do it with your heart.”
“With every one of those mistakes, it’s going to teach you a lesson.”
Currently, the volleyball team is putting in the off-season hours while a few of the athletes are preparing for sand volleyball season.
On the note of beach volleyball, Rohlfing was able to add a few comments and thoughts about the new addition. Rohlfing said, “I love it… there’s going to be an underlying understanding of one another, coach to coach, player to player, and the automatic support network that’s there… I get to coach again around one of my best friends and one of my other mentors… and to have someone like an influx of energy with someone you know, trust, and respect, just jumped it all up a notch… sand volleyball itself is just a cool sport. And I think it’s gonna add a dynamic that people don’t get to see very often around here, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Last, with Rohlfing finishing his 15th season at SOU, there comes a wealth of knowledge and experience. Rohlfing had a few appreciations about his time here. “This is my life’s ambition to coach at a high level with heart and passion, and Southern [Oregon University] allows that… what I’ve experienced here makes it so worthwhile and continues to maintain that passion after 15 years. People treat each other with respect, they care about each other. They celebrate each other… and that makes me enjoy being in my 15th year.”
Finally, for the Fun Siskiyou Question:
S: If you could be a character in any movie, who would it be?
J: I think it’s Batman. Batman to me is like the ultimate because he’s pretty low profile.