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The Dean of Western volleyball
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The Dean of Western volleyball
By Jessica Leeder
As the leader of one of the most determined women's volleyball teams in the country, Dean Lowrie is a coach who cannot be overlooked. Positive, friendly and caring, Lowrie's affection for the sport and for his Western team are important factors which allow him live a life which follows his dream.
Lowrie's volleyball roots stretch out to Western Canada. He was born in Calgary and found his love for sports while attending John Taylor Collegiate High School in Winnipeg. Lowrie grew up playing hockey, but decided to pursue volleyball more seriously because he didn't like the brawling, physical game which hockey was evolving into.
However, Lowrie said the main reason he turned to volleyball was because of his inspirational high school coach. "I had a great coach who really turned me onto the game. He made it exciting to go to practice every day and we worked so hard," he said.
After one year at the University of Manitoba, he won his first national championship as an athlete. He completed his post-secondary education at Laurentian University with a degree in physical education.
Eventually, Lowrie called on his friend and mentor Laurie Eisler at the University of Alberta for coaching advice. Lowrie's connection and skill got him the position of assistant coach for Eisler's team, which would proceed to win a national championship.
With two national championships under his belt, Lowrie decided to leave his full-time job in social work to pursue a career as a full-time coach. "A lot of people don't understand that you can do something like this for a living," he said.
A job in the Yukon as the territory's executive director of volleyball, led to a position at the University of Alberta as technical director of volleyball. Lowrie took the position in Alberta because he thought it would lead to his dream job as a head coach. His successful experiences there led to Lowrie being hired at Western as the head coach of the women's volleyball team.
Lowrie came to Western in 1996 despite the fact he only had three years of head coaching under his belt. Since then, only good things have come out of his position as leader for the women Mustangs.
Last season, for the first time in 20 years, the Mustangs went to the Ontario University Athletics championships. Lowrie said his team is looking towards a national championship again, but not before they win a medal at the OUAs.
When asked what he brings to the sport, Lowrie said he tries to understand the players and give his team whatever they need to be successful. "I try to treat athletes with a lot of respect for what they do. I treat them like they're professionals," he added.
His team employs a sports psychologist, an assistant coach and two trainers to accommodate the players' needs.
Lowrie explained that his coaching style, involving a commitment to defensive play and ball control, fits the women's game well.
Lowrie added that another reason he chooses to coach women is because of the positive influence Eisler had on him in his early coaching days.
Although he is visibly content with his position at Western, Lowrie said he is setting his sights on becoming the coach of the Canadian National Women's Volleyball team in the future. For now, he's looking to set a positive trend for his team.
"We want to get to the point where we're winning an Ontario championship every year we'd love the chance to do it again."
Judging from Lowrie's positive attitude and approach to coaching, it shouldn't be a problem.