“by Victoria Cybulski”
When Yang Yang came to America from China, she barely knew English, but now uses it to yell at her players. Yang is the head coach of Rocky Mountain College’s women’s volley-
Originally from Yong An, China, Yang grew up going to a sports school. At 21, Yang came to school in America. Yang said in reference to coming to America, “I was just wanting to
go to school… And I didn’t want to play volleyball anymore and I was burnt out… That was the only way I could get out.”
Knowing only how to introduce herself and phrases like, “Can you help me?”
Yang spent her first year in the United States in San Francisco, not learning any more English due to the fact that all her friends were also Chinese and only spoke Chinese. After her first year in the United States, Yang wanted to “get out of her comfort zone,’’ that she had developed with her Chinese language and friends.
During the spring of 2011, one of Yang’s friends told Yang that her coach was looking for a volleyball player. Her friend explained that there was a scholarship available and asked Yang if she would be interested in playing volleball. This is how Yang ended up playing at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Kandice Gregorak, formerly Kandice Kelly, was Yang’s coach at North Idaho College and Yang’s connection to Rocky Mountain College. Laurie Kelly, former head coach of the Battlin’ Bears, and Gregorak’s mother, went to watch the North Idaho College volleyball team play at their National tournament and tried to recruit Yang to come play at Rocky. Gregorak helped
Yang make the decision to come to Rocky instead of re- turning to California.
Yang’s career as a Battlin’ Bear under coach Kelly was full of success. In only two years at Rocky, the 6-foot middle blocker racked up over 1,000 kills and helped lead Rocky to a No. 1 ranking in the nation. Yang was a two time NAIA All-American, All-Region, All-Conference, and Academic All-Conference Player.
Yang was impressive as a player, but she is just as impressive as a head coach.
Yang became the head coach for the women’s volleyball team at Rocky Spotlight on RMC Women’s Volleyball Coach Yang Yang Mountain College in February of 2019. Before this, she worked under Coach Kelly in the previous four years.
During her time as the assistant coach, Yang earned Frontier Conference Assistant Coach of the Year two times, in 2016 and 2018.
The transition into the head coach position has been smooth for Yang. She said in reference to Coach Kelly, “We have been talking about this for a long time… She was wanting me to come here and help her and that’s how everything was set up.”
Yang said that “thinking about what to work on and handling loss” are some of the most difficult things about being head coach.
“You can’t blame the players, usually it’s the coach that didn’t get prepared enough.”
“I never thought we would be this good,” Yang said in reference to the season, but the national ranking of the team speaks for itself.