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On the off season: coaches’ interests

We all know where to find the Mills College coaching staff during the in-season sport seasons, but where do you find them when Haas Pavilion is empty and the coaches’ doors are locked?

For some, coaching physical education classes and club sports is like a vacation during the off-season. For others, a secluded paradise of trees, whistling birds and cool lakes is the place to spend time away from the chaos of daily practices and weekend competitions.

Head Volleyball Coach Susan Forbes, who completed her first season at Mills last fall, has stuck around during her off-season to coach local competitive club volleyball for the Golden Bear team in Berkeley. Forbes also teaches a strengthening and conditioning PE class this semester and hosts Open Gym nights at Mills for students interested in volleyball.

“Coaches wear a lot of hats at smaller schools,” said Forbes, reflecting on the various responsibilities she has taken on.

Head Swim Coach Neil Virtue often travels to foreign countries — such as Costa Rica, Mexico and Cuba — during his down time. He also takes time out of his off-season to teach swimming classes and act as adviser for the Student-Athletic Advisory Committee for Mills athletes.

This year, however, Virtue is shifting his vacation plans from travel to remodeling his kitchen and attending to his new hobby: Cuban-style percussion. Virtue said the Bay Area is a hot-spot for Cuban music and he plays the Congo drums as part of a local Afro-Cuban Folkloric group.

Another aspect of the coaches’ off-season is making sure enrollment in the College’s competitive athletic teams remain consistent. Recruiting takes up a good chunk of a coach’s time.

“Recruiting fluctuates throughout the year. It is an interesting challenge to recruit to an all-girls school,” Virtue said.

As for new Head Crew Coach Carrie Davis, playing with her kids, riding horses, reading and “having time to simply be” is on the agenda for her off-season.

Laura Davis, who coaches cross country and track and field said she uses her off-season to indulge in her favorite hobby.

“I’m a fiction writer, so I go to a cabin in the north woods of Minnesota by a lake and write,” Davis said.

Davis spends her downtime writing for eight to 10 hours a day, sometimes breaking to take a trail run or have a jump in the lake.

“I don’t have the Internet or TV, and I make a point in staying as disconnected from the outside world as I possibly can,” she said.