This is Coach Antzoulides and RHS Girls Varsity Volleyball
Updated: Sep 18, 2019
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Photo credit Mark Capobianco
The Rutherford High School Varsity Volleyball team is coached by Head Coach Helen Antzoulides, who is also a Physical Education teacher at Rutherford High School. Coach A (as she is known) continues to inspire student athletes on and off the volleyball court.
Jenna Rogers, Junior at RHS, told TIR, “Ms. A is so successful because she is so selfless and puts our needs above hers at every moment of the season. A lot of the girls on the team reference her as their school mom because she takes on that role during the season. We spend more time with her than with our actual moms this time of year. I can't really put into words how talented she is at coaching but winning becomes extremely easy when we are being coached her.”
This year marks Coach Antzoulides 16th year as the Varsity Girls Volleyball Coach and she is excited that a new season has begun.
TIR: Why did you choose to coach volleyball? What do you enjoy most about it?
Helen Antzoulides: I started coaching volleyball in 1986 as an assistant coach at Paterson Catholic High School and later became the head coach for twelve years. They needed someone to fill the void and I was happy to learn. Having never played the sport in high school, I quickly learned that this fast paced game was exciting and fun. I enjoyed teaching the athletes and seeing improvement on a daily basis. This has not changed through the years.
TIR: Last year, your team did extremely well, placing as the Group 2 Runner Up. Your team won their first 22 games. To what do you attribute their success?
HA: I'm not going to mislead you and say that last year's success was expected, it was not. However, the 2018 team did exactly what championship teams do. They worked hard, they embraced their role on the team, they believed that they had what it took to win and they trusted the process.
TIR: This year’s team already won their first four games against Glen Rock on 9/6, Garfield on 9/10, Hawthorne on 9/12 and Wood-Ridge on 9/16. What are you looking forward to this season?
HA: I'm looking forward to watching these athletes improve. In the league, Rutherford always has a target on their back, meaning we are expected to win and teams are gunning for us. I am looking forward to see how this team matures on the court and how they handle the pressure to repeat as sectional champions. It's much easier getting to the top, then staying on top.
TIR: What is the practice schedule like for the team?
HA: They started practicing during the summer, so we have been at it since August 12. A normal week's schedule includes three days of practices (2 hours in length) and three matches .
TIR: Principal of RHS, Frank Morano, told TIR, “Coach A is the definition of consistency. Each and every year the team is competing for league and state titles. However, what is more important than that is the relationships that she forms with her players. Her players have the utmost respect for her and the bond they create is unbelievable. There is a direct correlation to this and the success she constantly has.”
In 2017, you were recognized for your 400th career victory as the RHS Varsity Girls Volleyball coach. Why do you think you’ve had such a successful career?
HA: I've been very fortunate to have been around a great deal of hard working athletes! That truly is the bottom line. I will help guide the student-athletes to make them become successful and believe in themselves, but ultimately it is their hard work that wins contests.
TIR: Athletic Director at RHS, David Frazier, explained, “Helen is an integral part of our PE and Athletic department staff. She has had continuous success because of a consistent team message and the caring and commitment to the student-athletes in her care. Division and State championships have been a bonus but her idea of success us building lifelong relationships with her athletes. Her athletes have proven they will run through a wall for her and they have worked hard for her and the team's success.”
TIR: What is your coaching philosophy?
HA: My goals as a coach have remained the same. Teaching my student-athletes the proper physical and mechanical skills and allowing them the opportunity to have a say in their athletic career has allowed me to keep everything in perspective. This attitude has allowed me the opportunity to make a difference in many lives. It has also given me longevity and that is the greatest gift that I have given myself.