Penn State Volleyball Alum Clare Brockman Discusses Getting Into Coaching

Clare Brockman, née Powers, is the latest Penn State women’s volleyball alumna to join the coaching ranks.

After graduating from the university with a degree in print/digital journalism following her redshirt junior season in 2017, Brockman took a job as a post-graduate intern on the Texas Tech staff for the 2018 season.

Brockman, who’s originally from Aptos, California, played her first two years of college volleyball for the Saint Mary’s Gaels, where she was named an All-WCC Freshman selection in 2014. The 6-foot-3 outside hitter had 210 digs, 185 kills, 34 blocks, 15 assists, and 14 aces that year in Moraga, California.

Brockman suffered a season-ending injury as a sophomore and ending up redshirting before transferring to Penn State for the 2016-17 seasons. Brockman had 15 kills (.538), eight digs, an ace, and a solo block in 22 career matches for the Nittany Lions.

She was quite an accomplished prospect coming out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, California. Brockman won back-to-back state championships in 2012-13 at the powerhouse program. She also made a name for herself on the travel circuit with Vision Volleyball Club.

Brockman is now an English teacher and the head girls’ volleyball coach at St. Pius X High School in Houston, Texas. The 2019 season was her first as head coach of the Panthers, who finished the year 16-16.

“Throughout my high school years, the last career I would have envisioned for myself would be teaching and coaching; yet, here I am,” Brockman said. “In my early years of college, I came to realize how lucky I was to have had such strong leaders in my high school career.

“They managed to encourage my development as a person through our court relationship. This idea inspired me to be that guide for young women in high school who are struggling.”

Brockman also shared how a family tragedy helped her better realize her goals in life and what she truly wanted to do after graduation.

“In addition to my recognition of my passion, I also had a cousin commit suicide [during] this time, which had a huge affect on my entire self,” Brockman said. “I no longer lusted for travel and the instant gratification of a luxurious lifestyle. Instead, I wanted to be a teacher who truly cared for her students and encouraged them to become the best version of themselves, which also translates to how I coach my girls.”

Brockman discussed some of the lifelong lessons she was able to gather from Russ Rose during her time at Penn State.

“Coach Rose’s leadership will have a lifelong effect on the person I am and who I strive to be,” Brockman said. “I think the most important thing he taught me is in order to achieve success, you have to work really, really hard. No one can do it for you and you cannot wish success upon yourself. You have to work for it.”

When asked what her initial philosophy has been as a coach, Brockman gave a refreshing take on the game and the type of life lessons she hopes to instill in her players.

“My overall philosophy I would say is developing athletes in learning the game of volleyball,” Brockman said. “Once you understand the fun games you can play within the large game itself, a new world opens.

“For example, teaching an outside hitter how to tool off the outside hand of the block. Once they’ve mastered it, it becomes an amusing game of cat and mouse, because as soon as they think they’ll finally get a block by taking all of the line, then you simply hit hard angle, which will be wide open. Too often volleyball players are too position-trained and don’t learn the game as a whole, so they miss out on so much fun.”

Brockman knows that she’s more than a coach in many respects for her players, who can come to her with whatever is on their mind. She’s a role model who is continuing the Penn State volleyball tradition of giving back to the next generation of athletes.

“There have been times when I am holding crying players or students that said, ‘I had no one else to talk to’ or something of the sort,” Brockman said. “Knowing that I can provide support for them and encourage them to work hard to achieve their dreams, it gets me through the hard days — like parent-teacher conferences.”