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BCC Volleyball Coach Herb Tokumoto Building Successful Program
August 8, 2012 - If Herb Tokumoto had his way he would live in the gym.
That's the urban myth about Brevard Community College's head volleyball coach and he doesn't really dispute it.
In his fifth year at the helm of BCC's program Tokumoto and his assistants — wife and former BCC player Kim Tokumoto and Pete Klonowski — are preparing for another step forward after achieving the program's best finish since 2005, a 19-20 record in 2011.
His efforts get high marks from Athletic Director Jeff Carr.
"Herb has done a great job over my few years as athletic director in improving the program every year," Carr said. "Every year the quality of the players he has recruited is better on the court and in the classroom. He is very passionate about the game of volleyball and has done a great job. I look forward to seeing his new recruits and the level that his team is at this year."
BCC needs to perform at a high level given that it plays in the Florida College System Activities Association's rugged Southern Conference with Miami Dade, Indian River State College, Palm Beach State College and Broward College.
Miami Dade finished 8-0 in the conference last season while Brevard was 3-5. BCC begins its 2012 season Aug. 24-25 at the Florida State College at Jacksonville tournament.
Tokumoto is a native Hawaiian, Air Force veteran and an Abacus Technology computer networking specialist at Kennedy Space Center by day. He was introduced to team volleyball in the Air Force in Southern California 1976 and it was love at first spike.
His coaching experience includes being head man at Rockledge High for four seasons and 11 years in the Cape Coast Volleyball Club where he is director of coaches' education. To that end he appreciates the challenges of coaching at the community college level in Florida.
"This is a double-edged sword," he said. "I believe that education is a top priority and being able to gain a scholarship is a plus. Here's the cut: these young ladies dual enroll in high school and let's say they get a scholarship, they play for a season. Then they have enough credits to graduate so most will leave and continue their education. The other point is that we have them for something like a total of four months of training and playing time per season. To make them capable of going on to the next level we impress on them that they need to continually touch a ball and play."
Then there is the competitive nature of the game at the college level, something Tokumoto stresses with his newcomers.
"The speed of the game and the complexities of the play options that the athletes can accomplish and the knowledge level of the coaches," he said. "Here's an example: In high school a player hits the ball and 80 percent of those balls are kills. Here 75 percent of those 80 percent kills are dug up and played out.
"What we also explain to them is the fact that teams are better-rounded and the talent level is higher. We base our focus on what tools our athletes have and what we need to improve. Our intent is to bring them to the level we feel will benefit them if they choose to play at the next level as a student-athlete."
And students they must be, maintaining a 2.0 grade point average to remain eligible to be an athlete and a 2.5 GPA to transfer to an NCAA Division I program. That's where time management skills and a goal-oriented personality become paramount, something Tokumoto is well aware of and makes a point of ensuring his players are as well.
"Everything is demanding at this level; school starts when our season starts," he said. "We jump into practices three hours every day then match dates and tournaments. The student-athletes are still responsible for all school work assigned to them. If you see us getting ready to travel you'll see laptops and books being taken with us."
Such is life in intercollegiate athletics, even at the community college level. But Tokumoto believes BCC is becoming more visible — a new wood floor and refurbished gym will enhance that — and to that end will attract even more talented players.
"Since we are beginning to be noticed and we are establishing a reputation in the volleyball community, we are having more local talent coming to us," he said. "We're also developing a strong relationship in the volleyball circuit. We've got a great relationship established with a club in Nevada (Silver State Volleyball). We've recruited three young ladies from Nevada and all have come in with very solid fundamental skills for us to build on. The big thing for these young ladies is the personality to be able to travel across the country and handle themselves accordingly."
Under Tokumoto's guidance they are handling themselves well.
"Herb brings a vast amount of experience to the BCC volleyball program," Klonowski said. "He has obtained a knowledge base by being involved in the sport for over 40 years.
"Last season we made some meaningful progress and became competitive within the Southern Conference. This year we will continue to strive to improve our standing on the court, in the classroom and within the community.
"With only four returning eligible players we will need them to provide leadership for our large incoming class. We are confident the recruits will fill the immediate needs of the program and will provide significant contributions."
One of the returnees is sophomore middle hitter Jamie Darragh of Dayton, Nev.
"We had a really good season last year with Coach Herb," Darragh said. "He taught us a lot about the game, a lot about how to work together as a team, how to play as strong athletes would play.
"He's a really good, level-headed coach."