Spotlight: Desiree Tan – Attitude is Everything

Desiree Tan elaborates on her transition from player to coach, discussing her experiences and passion for the role. Discover more about Desiree’s volleyball journey and the guidance she offers to aspiring coaches below.


I fell in love with volleyball when I was 8 years old. Growing up all over the world, I was exposed to some of the most engaging, talented coaches around, people whose coaching credos have stuck with me until now (Coach Porter, Coach Gabriel, if you’re reading this, I’m talking about you!).

After years of playing in four different countries, I tried my hand in coaching for community service hours at my high school in Perth when I was 17, and when I graduated, at WAVL for UWA in 2015. My first taste of success was in 2016 with UWA’s Division 2 men, and I realized for the first time that it was something that I truly enjoyed. I went on to coach various men’s sides at the club, as well as state teams and junior national team sides until I decided that coaching was something I could pursue professionally. When the opportunity came to move overseas to Sweden, I jumped on it and moved in two weeks. I have now been coaching overseas for 2 seasons.

The most rewarding thing about coaching isn’t just about winning titles: it’s about the tangible and intangible impact you make on athletes. Helping athletes to become better versions of themselves on and off the court and being that person that supported them on their journey, is an experience like no other. The sheer adrenaline of seeing a team perform together and succeed as a result is why I keep doing what I’m doing.

Of course, many challenges come with being a young female in the coaching world, especially professionally. Being noticed and respected as a female coach becomes even tougher when you’re in a foreign country against some of the best coaches in the world, and the fear of failure is a lot stronger than it is at home. I have spent a lot of my career feeling that I needed to prove my worth to others because of who I am; it will always remain a challenge, but with hard work, the right support, and the right attitude, it will all pay off.

My advice to aspiring coaches is this: attitude is everything. Constantly seek knowledge and self-improvement, seek inspiration from those who inspire you, and stay positive in the face of adversity. Keep remembering why you do what you do, and if you work hard with the right attitude, the results will come, and you’ll be unstoppable.


Written by Desiree Tan

Photos by Retouched Reality