Megan Merchant serves The University of Olivet as the director of volleyball, overseeing both the men’s and women’s programs and coaching the women’s team. In addition, she is the senior woman administrator of athletics and adviser of Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), providing opportunities to connect with student-athletes in many facets. Coach Merchant’s passion for volleyball – and her love of the strategy, competition and comradery that comes with it – spans her entire lifetime. Through her role, she hopes to help others uphold their own lifelong love of the sport and teach student-athletes how athletics can contribute to their personal and career success.
I really love the family feel that the college has. With my husband, head baseball coach Andy Merchant, also coaching here, it has really enhanced the family feel for us. We love rooting and supporting all of the teams and student-athletes on campus.
What is your favorite memory from your time at OC?
I have so many really great memories from my time here – many trips that my team has gone on, some big program wins along the way, watching young women mature and develop, seeing a player really improve on the court – far too many to count. Nevertheless, if I had to choose one of them to call a favorite it would be when we were able to surprise one of our senior players with her mom and sister coming to a game to watch her play. Life circumstances and work had always gotten in the way of her mom ever coming to campus. Having her mom walk in the gym to watch her daughter play for the first time in four years was really cool and there were tears everywhere!
Where do your passions for coaching and volleyball stem from?
I grew up in a very competitive family, and our family motto was, “The Miller family has one rule – win at all costs.” Although it was probably more joke than reality, it did influence me. My older sister played college volleyball and I spent years in the gym learning the game through watching. We also played volleyball with family and friends as far back as I can remember at our home on both the grass court my parents put in or in the pool. I fell in love with the game, the strategy, the competition, the comradery and the idea that it was not just something that you play in high school or college, but volleyball really is a lifelong sport.
For me, coaching just seemed like a natural fit. I like helping others any way I can, I enjoy teaching and I absolutely love getting to share one of my biggest passions with others.
What is your coaching style like?
I tend to be a teaching coach. I don’t enjoy just barking orders, but instead would rather clarify why and how we do what we do. My girls would tell you that I am not one to yell often and would prefer to stop, talk and explain.
What’s the average day in your role, or some of the unique things you are responsible for?
There isn’t really an average day in my role being that I wear multiple hats. For volleyball, I spend time recruiting, coaching in the gym, meeting with players, fundraising, scheduling and planning. As the senior woman administrator, I attend meetings for athletics, am part of the MIAA Committee on Athletics, schedule travel for all sports and spend time meeting and planning for SAAC.
Why do you encourage students to attend OC?
Attending The University of Olivet is a great decision because the people here really care about all students and are invested in every person’s development.
My favorite event on campus every year is the Ollies. It is much like the ESPYs and is a time for us to recognize some of the greatest achievements of our student-athletes for the year. It is wonderful to see all of the athletes out of their traditional athletic gear and all dressed up.
I also always look forward to preseason. Although it is insanely busy and tiring, this time is also exciting as I get to know the incoming freshmen and see the team come together as one.
What advice do you share with students or alumni?
For current students, my advice would be to get involved on campus in every way you can. I would also encourage them to build meaningful relationships with coaches, staff, faculty and everyone on campus. The people that work at The University of Olivet would love to be a part of your life.
For alumni, my advice would be to always know that you are welcome and part of this place. Especially in athletics, it can seem like you aren’t still part of the program if the coach that you played for is no longer here. That is so far from the truth. Every coach here would absolutely love to have former players find ways to continue to be part of the program. This can be done through sending players our way that you think would be great for The University of Olivet, wearing your OC athletics swag to grow the name, sharing your positive experiences with future Comets as well as current players, giving advice to the team and financial support.
What is an interesting or little known fact about yourself?
I attended Great Lakes Christian College where I double majored in interpersonal and organizational communications as well as bible theology and a minor in history. While there, I was also an All-American volleyball player. Most recently, I am known for having an 11.5-pound baby girl, Mya. I also am a proud mom to my son, Eli.
Learn more about athletic opportunities for Comets by visiting campus and connecting with awesome coaches, like Coach Merchant. Contact the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org for questions.