RBC Coaches Training National Champions
Led by husband and wife coaches, Stephanie Champine and Shaun Dryden, Richard Bland College’s women’s volleyball team wins 2022 National Championship title.
RBC Coaches Training National Champions
By Abigail Holmes
The college brought on a husband and wife coaching team, Stephanie Champine and Shaun Dryden, at the beginning of 2022 to build a women’s volleyball team capable of winning nationals. In the recent NJCAA Division II National Championship, the team won four matches, taking home the National Championship title. Before the arrival of Champine, Dryden and the 2022 tournament, RBC had never won a match in the competition before.
Scott Newton, Director of Student Life and Athletics at RBC, observes, “Bringing on Stephanie and Shaun has majorly benefited the program because of the amount of attention they can put towards the development of the student-athlete holistically. They make each player better athletically and push them to reach their full potential on the court.”
The coaches spent the last year recruiting and training athletes in mindset and skill to accomplish this feat. They moved from Ohio, where they formally coached several volleyball seasons at Terra State Community College. “We were looking for an opportunity to coach beach in addition to indoor volleyball, and Richard Bland needed both,” says Champine.
“Moving from snowstorm territory to near beach terrain has been awesome, and our players are amazing,” adds Dryden. Having coached athletes through high-level sand and indoor volleyball tournaments, the duo moved to Virginia to surround themselves with both versions of their beloved sport. Champine serves as Head Coach of Women’s Indoor and Beach Volleyball at RBC, with Dryden assisting as Associate Head Coach.
Champine reminiscences, “We had a volleyball court at my parent’s house growing up, and I always loved the sport. In fact, I enjoyed it so much in high school that I dropped other sports to get serious and play more. Coaching during the week and playing on the weekends has never tired.”
An Owen’s Community College coach approached Champine in high school after seeing her play and offered the young athlete a place on the team. After two years at Owen’s, Champine transferred to Austin Peay State University (APSU), where she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2010. She was inducted into Owen’s Hall of Fame as the first female and APSU’s Hall of Fame as well. Moreover, she was voted All-American NCAA Division I for APSU and Newcomer of the Year in 2008, qualified for All-American in 2008 and 2009, and was named Conference Player of the Year in 2009. Her jersey #11 was retired in 2012 and resides at Owen’s.
Likewise, Dryden also devoted his time to volleyball beginning in high school, saying, “I started out randomly playing as a club sport, but it quickly became my number one. Stephanie and I have always played and competed hard, so coaching is second nature.”
Dryden played Division I after graduating with an associate degree from Los Angeles Pierce College and earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) in 2013. He was twice named MIVA Defensive Player of the Week and holds the Single Season Dig Record for the university. While earning his MBA from IPFW, Dryden trained with the Swedish volleyball club Falkenberg in 2014. In 2015, he participated in the USA Tour in Slovenia and Italy and played for Team Blizzard in Serbia during the following season.
The couple was introduced during an adult professional league volleyball tournament where you could say they met their match. “Coaching as husband and wife instead of with a random coach has been easier because we have similar coaching styles and bounce off of each other well,” says Champine. “It’s more fun and makes for easy travel.” In just one season of coaching at RBC, their team made school history.
Champine and Dryden’s coaching philosophy reveals: “A good coach realizes the game is about the athletes, and they’re passionate about their players. Each athlete is different, so our coaching techniques are flexible enough to adjust based on the player’s needs. We’re always researching how to teach skills in new ways, and we’ll work with them until they’re ready to stop for the day. We’re 100% invested and available, and they know they can call us up anytime, regardless of whether it’s volleyball related. We’re here to help them through college, supporting them and holding them accountable.”
“I was never worried about the championship. When we got the job, we intentionally recruited athletes with the character and drive necessary to compete successfully. Once they arrived on campus, we worked with them to develop their play, and they took it from there. We have a team of strong, self-motivated, and talented players, and we do our best to teach and support them,” comments Champine.
During the tournament, the team consistently took out essential opponents who performed well over the season. RBC defeated #4 Iowa Central Community College in three straight sets, playing against the nation’s top scorer. In the match against the #1 Johnson County Community College, RBC was down two sets but came back in a reverse sweep to win the next three.
Shaun says, “It took all the players to make it happen. Some of the matches were tough, and it took all five sets to come out on top. We trained our players to focus, teaching them how to face adversity and maintain mental toughness. A well-rounded athlete is taught on and off the court. From the start of the season to championships, our athletes grew in working as a team in structure and communication. They can see how much they’re improving and their teammates are improving, which is rewarding.”
In the finals against #6 Scottsdale Community College (SCC), SCC was at match point, but RBC overcame the pressure, winning the National Championship title and closing the season 34-3. Setter Karagyn Durco broke RBC’s record with 62 assists in a final match and was named MVP. In addition, Leilani Goggin and Hailey Hopkins were voted All-Tournament, and Champine was named Coach of the Tournament.
Newton states, “This is an exciting time for the volleyball program, the athletic department, and the college as a whole. Traditionally the National Champion in volleyball has come from the Midwest or the western regions, but being able to do it with a team mainly from VA is a great achievement. This will help recruit for all programs and show that we are committed to being successful athletically and academically. Especially with the recruiting ability that Stephanie and Shaun have, I believe we can be contenders for the championship every year. This is the first step to building a powerhouse program that maintains national recognition annually.”