Sports Person of the Week
Stevens Happy to be Coaching with the Easties
Former Yellowjackets’ athlete Danielle Stevens recently began her first season as a varsity assistant coach and the JV head coach with the East Haven girls’ volleyball program. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Stevens)
After officiating at East Haven’s track meets during the spring, Danielle Stevens was asked by Athletic Director Anthony Verderame if she would be interested in becoming a coach at the school. As an East Haven resident and former Yellowjackets’ athlete, Danielle leaped at the offer and is now in her first year as a varsity assistant and JV head coach with the East Haven girls’ volleyball team.
“I’m excited. I’m glad to be back, and I’m really enjoying it so far,” says Danielle. “We have some amazing coaches right now. We’ve had amazing coaches all along. I’m just really happy to be a part of that.”
While she is now a volleyball coach, Danielle actually grew up playing basketball. Danielle played through her junior season at East Haven, when she started running indoor track. She also participated in outdoor track for all four years until graduating in 2013.
Danielle is a fan of all sports, regardless of whether she has played them. As she steps on the sidelines with the Yellowjackets, Danielle wants to pass that passion along to East Haven’s athletes.
“I’m just teaching the girls how to be passionate about the sport they’re playing. We’re having fun, learning the basics, and growing as a team,” Danielle says. “I grew up as an athlete, and I really can’t picture not being an athlete. I’m glad to be coaching. It’s kind of like teaching.”
Danielle is currently a teacher at the Old Stone Church Early Learning Center. While this season marks her first official coaching role, Danielle has kept up to date with the Yellowjackets and followed their playoff runs in recent years. With a love for East Haven sports, Danielle knew that she had to accept the coaching role when it was offered to her.
“I was always keeping track of our town’s sports. The championships for softball, basketball, volleyball—I kept up with all of it. I missed it a lot,” says Danielle. “When the opportunity came up to return, I jumped on it. It was just something I missed.”
Danielle got her first chance to coach with East Haven when its JV and varsity teams played road matches against Branford on Sept. 9. Varsity Head Coach Craig Brown says that Danielle has instantly become an integral member of the program and is doing everything that’s asked of her and more.
“Coach Stevens has been everything we could have hoped for so far,” says Brown. “She’s not just putting in the time and effort at practice, but really committing the extra time at home—researching, scouting, and preparing everything she can for the program.”
As a coach, Danielle likes to promote hard work, confidence, and the importance of not overthinking the little things. She wants to help the Easties grow both individually and as a team, while making sure that they’re always enjoying their time on the court.
For many of the younger players in the program, this is their first time playing high school volleyball. As Danielle gets acclimated to the sport, she is hoping to grow alongside her athletes.
“I grew up with basketball, which had a lot of footwork in it. I’m kind of translating that,” Danielle says. “A lot of our freshmen didn’t get an opportunity to play in middle school last year. They’re learning, as well. We’ll all learning together and all getting better together.”
After competing for East Haven and watching the school’s success from afar, Danielle feels excited for the opportunity to coach at her alma mater. Danielle wants to see the Yellowjackets reach the postseason and for every athlete to have a fun year playing volleyball.
“I would love to see our team going far and qualifying for both SCCs and states. That would be awesome,” says Danielle. “Hopefully, they’ll enjoy the sport more, keep getting better, and keep playing for us.”