GREAT FALLS — When University of Providence assistant volleyball coach Drew Choules took another coaching job weeks before the season began, Head Coach Arunas Duda was left to scramble to find a replacement. As fate would have it, the Vice President of Athletics for the Argos was a former Division I head coach.
Enter Dave Gantt. With 28 years of Division I coaching experience under his belt before taking the administrator role in 2016, Gantt had stops at Montana State University, Oregon State, Gonzaga and an assistant role with USA Volleyball between 1988 to 1992.
“I'm his boss in the morning and he's my boss in the afternoon,” Gantt said. “Neither one of us have any problem with that and I'm back in the gym again. So to me it's almost cathartic.”
Having been both an assistant and head coach, Gantt came in fully understanding the role that he’d be playing under Duda.
“Someone else makes the decisions. So you don't want to violate that. But when they ask you your opinion, you can have one that's okay,” he stated.
However, despite the level of expertise Gantt brought to the table, the players wanted a female presence to accompany the coaching staff.
Enter Kelsey Shaver. After securing Gantt on the coaching staff, The former All-American outside hitter for the Argos, who graduated last year, was running a coffee shop in Great Falls when Coach Duda approached her in joining the team.
“She was still in town and so I immediately stopped by while she was working at the coffee shop and went to go get a cup of coffee and said, Hey, what do you think about this and, and she was pretty excited about it.”
“I have never like really pictured myself coaching before,” Shaver said. “But I love the school and obviously spent a lot of my time here and growth as a person and volleyball player so I was just really excited for the opportunity.”
For Duda and Gantt, with their combined success in the coaching world, both have mastered the ability to get their teams to perform in the way they want them too.
“I'd say he's an expert. So just learning those things from him has been super valuable to me and really helpful,” Duda explained.
“The art of getting people to do what they need to do that really separates coaches,” Gantt added. “I think I'm pretty good at that actually and I think Arunas is pretty good at that as well.”
As for Shaver, she gets a front row seat to the ins and outs of coaching while playing to her strength of being able to connect with players who’s shoes she used to be in.
“It wasn't that long ago that I was in their shoes and you know, going through school and life changes and all that stuff. So it's cool because I feel really connected to them.”
The new coaching staff under Duda is clearly working with the team ranked in the Top-10 for NAIA after beating number #6 Concordia (Neb.) last weekend in Omaha, Neb. Their biggest test comes this weekend in Arizona where they play three games with one being #12 Bellevue.