Digging her role as coach
Ex-Maverick Diane Seymour feels at home in the first seat on the bench
As a high school athlete, Diane Seymour intently followed Lisa Love’s career.
Love, who coached Seymour at Bowie High School in Arlington, was ascending to the upper echelon of college volleyball, taking a fledgling UT Arlington program from its infancy in 1982 to a national power just four years later.
Little did Love know that she was laying the foundation for the Mavericks two decades later. Last season, 20 years after stepping onto the Texas Hall stage for her first volleyball practice as a freshman, Seymour took the first seat on the bench as the head coach.
"I can remember coming to watch matches when we would play Texas A&M," she recalled. "I would think, ‘One year we’re going to beat them,’ and I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to be part of a program that would turn the corner."
Seymour signed as a freshman and from 1985-88 helped the Mavericks to a 119-25 record and four straight Southland Conference championships. As a senior and team captain, she led the climb to fifth in the national polls. The 1988 Mavs dropped their final match—a five-game decision to Texas in the regional finals.
It was volleyball, a sport that many players sandwiched between a summer stint as a lifeguard and basketball in the winter, that became Seymour’s passion. She enjoyed its "newness."
"I was a pretty good athlete, and I was good in soccer. But going to Bowie, coach Love introduced me to a new, challenging sport that I fell in love with. (Coach Love) was a tremendous influence in my life."
Love, now athletics director at Arizona State University, had watched Seymour play when Seymour was at Hutcheson Junior High School.
"Diane was one of the leading athletes in the city. What she brought to the court as a college player was that she was a team unifier," Love said. "She was a great passer and defensive player, but she had this great energy she brought to the game. She is very empowering. She wouldn’t push the panic button and could release the pressure off a situation."
Seymour brought that same calming effect to a group of freshmen last year. Cracking a smile while losing a close point was the release valve to help the squad to a 24-7 record as interim head coach.
"Coach is very positive," said then-senior Heather Dunn, who joined the Mavs as an assistant coach this season. "We had freshmen who lacked experience. Instead of the freshmen thinking, ‘I can’t do this because she’s going to come down on me,’ it was, ‘She believes in me.’ She gave them confidence. It was a lot of hard work, but fun hard work."
Seymour, who spent eight years as a Mavericks assistant under former coach Janine Smith, has also directed the North Dallas Junior Volleyball Association and coaches a national traveling squad that qualified for the Junior Olympics. She was named UT Arlington’s permanent head coach last November.
"I think I always knew I would be a coach," she said. "I thought I’d be in the high school ranks somewhere, but I knew when I began as an assistant 10 years ago I wanted to be a coach here. I hope to sit where I am for many, many years. I love UTA and Arlington."
— Bill Petitt