Whitehall-Coplay Press

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Budge is new Zephyr volleyball coach

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 by Steve andres Special to the Press in Sports

With school just about ready to recess for the summer, the Whitehall girls volleyball program will use the offseason for the players and their new coach to get acquainted with one another.

The Zephyrs announced in April that Eric Budge will be their new girls head volleyball coach. He replaces Paul Abi-Daher who spent one season at the helm of the program.

Budge, a 2004 Northampton High School graduate, has a long career playing and coaching volleyball. Budge attended East Stroudsburg University upon graduation from Northampton and became a teacher. By his own assessment, he’s been playing and coaching volleyball for 16 years, and will now embark on a new challenge as the head of the Zephyrs.

His first coaching stop was at his alma mater where he was an assistant boys volleyball coach from 2008-10. He took over the program following his stint as an assistant, and stayed for two years, leaving the Kids program to pursue his Master’s Degree in education from Lehigh University.

Budge was also an assistant coach at Nitschmann Middle School for a year, and was recently named as an associate head coach for the women’s volleyball at Northampton Community College. In his role at NCC, he worked alongside Lauren Kerr, the Spartan head coach, who also has ties to scholastic volleyball in the area. He currently teaches in the Wilson Area School District and has introduced club volleyball to the school since they currently don’t have a varsity program.

In his association with the Spartans last fall, he and Kerr guided the team to another bid to the National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament, finishing sixth among the tourney participants which was held in held in Rochester, Minnesota last November. They ended the year with a 26-6 record, adding another Region XIX title to their résumé.

Budge said the decision to take the reins at Whitehall was a fairly easy call since he knows about the program and its reputation.

“I knew that Whitehall was really a first-class school,” said Budge. “It was a fantastic opportunity.”

He was also encouraged to take the position by Amelia Ballard who played club volleyball with the Lehigh Valley affiliate of East Coast Power Volleyball where Budge was the head coach of 18U-Crystal. He said that she told him great things about the program and players.

Since arriving on campus, Budge said that everyone has welcomed him with open arms. He’s held a number of open gyms and the response has been encouraging.

“Everything we ask for we get with this administration,” said Budge.

Budge said that his philosophy is about establishing a place where everyone can succeed.

“It’s always about creating a positive team environment,” said Budge.

He said that players respond when they love the game and he wants to make it fun and keep that positive energy flowing. He understands that mistakes will happen, and he wants to make sure his players know that making mistakes is a part of the game. It’s sticking together as a team and playing for one another that’s most important.

As a former assistant coach at Northampton, Budge is well aware of the teams within the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. He said it just grows stronger every year. He expects there will be tough games this fall, but wants his team to continue to make progress and play their strongest volleyball at the end of the year.

Finally, he believes that success on the court stems from one’s mental outlook, and that emphasizing the mental aspect of the game will raise their physical abilities and carry that along.