After serving up four national championships since 1998, longtime Barrington resident Steve Warren is determined to lead his pro women’s volleyball team, Exterminator, to another USA Volleyball title this spring.
Warren has coached one of the country’s most successful women’s volleyball teams since 1992, recruiting players from all over the country and funding the team’s trip to nationals every spring at a cost of $20,000 to $25,000.
Warren, who owns a pest-control company, said he first began coaching volleyball in 1979 after attending a national tournament in Ohio.
“I decided to go to the nationals every year on my vacation, and I started to see a pattern,” he said.
Warren then started the boy’s volleyball program at Barrington High School, where he coached for two years before the team went varsity. He then decided to start Exterminator Volleyball, where he has coached many players over the years, including two women who went on to the Olympics in 2000.
Warren said he thinks people sometimes see volleyball as a company picnic game, but there’s really much more to the sport.
“It’s actually very athletic,” he said. “It’s a very physically demanding game.”
Warren, who learned how to play volleyball in college, says the game requires tremendous physical endurance, since players spend much of a match entirely off the ground.
The Exterminators practice for just two days before the tournament since the players live throughout the country. The team came in first place in Salt Lake City in 2012, and also had national victories in New Orleans in 2006, Minneapolis in 2003 and Tucson in 1998.
Although Warren has been funding the trip to the national tournaments since 1992, he said the tradition might be broken in 2014 because the tougher economic times have deeply hurt the team’s budget.
“We’re trying to fund raise to keep the tradition going,” said assistant coach Sam Shwiesky, who has been with Exterminator Volleyball since 2005.
Shwiesky said coaching with Warren and the Exterminator team has been instrumental for his career.
“I’ve been able to work with two Olympians, which was an amazing development,” he said. “I love the tactics and the psychology of helping players play their best.”
Warren said the team has become well-known in volleyball circles nationwide. That recognition is very validating, he said, as is bringing 12 to 15 great players together to become a winning force.
“To get a team to function as a team is like creating something out of nothing,” he said.
Warren also credits the dedication of the players.
“It’s the ultimate team sport,” he said. “The teamwork is infectious.”
Warren said the team is still recruiting players and has about a quarter of the funds needed to attend nationals in Phoenix this May. To contact Warren, call (847) 525-8795.