Brian Wheatley entering 30th season as Venice High School’s volleyball head coach

WWSB ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 4:48 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - “It’s all about win, what’s important now.” This is the message Venice High School’s head volleyball coach is issuing to his players as prepare for the start of their regular season.

The ladies enter the season with a chance to make school history and become back-to-back state champions, but even the players know their coach wants them focused on the present and not towards the future of another trophy yet.

“We just have to take it day by day, point by point,” said Brighton Ferguson, team libero and Venice High School junior. “We kind of just to ignore last year as great as it was.”

The pattern of season preps is something Wheatley is all too familiar with. He’s entering his 30th season as the program’s head coach.

”When I got into it I remember these coaches who had been around so long,” said Wheatley. “I remember thinking that’s a really cool thing. My very first game I went to Sarasota High and the ticket lady wouldn’t let me come in. She thought I was a kid. She thought I was just teasing. After that I’m like I better start looking a little older so I started wearing suits.”

During his tenure, Venice has won six state titles (1998, 2005, 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2022) Despite the tradition of winning, Wheatley tells ABC7 he wants his significance to mean more than rings and trophies. He cares more about the people he’s molding his players into becoming.

“It’s not just about volleyball,” said Wheatley. “In fact, volleyball’s down here, you know. What’s the big picture ya know. Whether it’s they go to college and join a sorority. Whether they play college volleyball. Go into business one day. These girls are going to be part of a team the rest of their life.”

Although, 30 years is a long time, there’s no talk of retirement in the plans for Wheatley. He says as long he has the passion he’s going to keep going.

When the Lady Indians take the court against Sarasota High School to begin their season August 22, Wheatley will be going for his 700th win.