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Milligan College's Doneva Bays knew she was 'meant to coach'

Kassi Butcher, Milligan College • Apr 23, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Milligan College head volleyball coach Doneva Bays first came to Milligan as a student in 1993 as a member of both the women’s basketball and volleyball teams. She earned All-America status in volleyball and became a member of the elite 1,000 points club on the basketball team.

Bays graduated from Milligan in 1996 and returned to her alma mater in 2008 as head coach for the women’s volleyball team. In 2018 and 2019, Bays led the Lady Buffs to back-to-back appearances at the NAIA Women’s Volleyball National Championship. The last time the volleyball team had earned an appearance at the national tournament was Bays’ senior year, 1996.

Bays discussed her time at Milligan as both a coach and a player and the experiences she has had over the years:

Q: What was it like becoming a coach at Milligan after being a student-athlete here?

A: “It was an incredible opportunity to coach where I played. I always knew that coming home would be coaching at Milligan.”

Q: As a player, what was one of your favorite memories?

A: “I had lots of memories as a dual-sport athlete at Milligan, but to mention a few: Driving anywhere with Coach King (Linda Doan) was an adventure and a memory. Our basketball trip to Piedmont that ended with us nestling the guardrail. On the court, being able to finish my career going to two national tournaments in two sports in the same year was an incredible feeling.”

Q. What was your favorite activity to do as a student outside of sports?

A. “Hike


Q. When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in coaching?

A. “Probably after my junior year. But I think I always knew I was meant to coach. Coaching came very natural for me on and off the court.” 

Q. What is the most rewarding aspect of being a coach?

A. “Using volleyball to impact the lives of young women and men. I love that I get to help young people navigate through the life lessons that sports and being on a team teach us.”

Q. What coaching philosophy have you held onto over the years?

A. “Win with grace and lose with dignity ... and always know that you can do all things through Christ.”

Q. What was it like playing for coaches that you now have the opportunity to work alongside?

A. “It has been amazing to get to have my college coaches as mentors in my coaching career. I still look to Rich Aubrey, Linda Doan and Lori Mills for wisdom and insight. They have all helped mold me into the coach that I am.”

Q. What is your biggest piece of advice for your athletes and athletes at Milligan in general?

A. “In the words of Coach Aubrey, ‘It’s a GET to, not a have to.’ Make sure you don’t take it for granted. It will be over before you know, and it’s always more than just ball.”

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