Just over four years ago, Kansas State Athletic Director Gene Taylor hired four-time FCS Champion Chris Klieman to coach the K-State football team. In his fourth year, Klieman led the team to new heights with a Big 12 Championship title and a Sugar Bowl appearance. Ten months ago, Taylor hired Jerome Tang, a National Champion as an assistant coach, as head coach of the men’s basketball team now ranked No. 5 in the country. Now, for a third time, Taylor has hired another National Champion in volleyball head coach Jason Mansfield.
As an assistant at Washington and Stanford, Mansfield has reached the final four seven times and was a part of a 2004 National Championship with Stanford. With his experience gained over the years, Mansfield is hoping to have a growth in team culture similar to the football and men’s basketball teams.
“I really want us to have a culture of learning and growing,” Mansfield said. “There’s a lot of teaching going on in the gym right now which is awesome … I want there to be a passion … I want them to be excited to compete.”
Mansfield has already begun work with the team in hopes of preparing them for next year.
“A lot of athleticism, a lot of experience,” Mansfield said about the current roster. “We have five freshmen and six upperclassmen that have played pretty big roles in their career. There’s a good blend of older and younger, and the younger … there’s a lot of talent there.”
In his time as an assistant, Mansfield has coached some of the best players in the country. This includes seven All-Americans at Washington and four National Players of the Year and Olympians at Stanford.
“The attention to detail and just the intention with what they did every day. Every drill, every rep that they got, they were just very focused,” Mansfield said. “That’s kind of who I am as a coach. Trying to not just get the best out of the players, but really having them understand what it’s like to compete and what it means to try to be great on every single rep that they’re getting.”
The mindset of those accomplished athletes is something Mansfield admires and hopes to instill within the team.
“I’m here to inspire. I want to inspire these kids to be great and believe in themselves and believe they can be better than maybe they think they can be,” Mansfield said. “I think that’s been a strength of mine as an assistant coach, and that’s something I want. I see that from the other coaches here. Coach Klieman and Coach Tang, I think they do a great job of inspiring their athletes to maybe be better than they think they can be.”
In the previous two seasons, the volleyball team has a combined record of 30-27, staying just above a .500 record each year. Mansfield thinks the team has the capability to move past an average record.
“It’s there, it’s just how do you become more consistent,” Mansfield said. “We can’t just be good in this space on one match and then be good in another space. We have to be consistently good in everything that we do. So the last few days, we’ve spent time in every skill and learning how to play the game in every single way.”
In Mansfield’s short time in Manhattan, everything has been “above and beyond expected” for him. With the remainder of the semester, he plans to continue to exceed expectations and get the team ready for a major 2023 season come fall.
“We have a couple of months to really kind of consistently do it,” Mansfield said. “And have it headed in the right direction to where, when we start practice in August for this season, we know what we are doing.”