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2017-04-04 11:50:00 CEST

More Than Sports: Full House for Danny

Danny Wood is new coach of Schwaiger/Schützenhöfer

Four-year-project: Steffi Schwaiger (nearest camera) and Kathi Schützenhöfer. Credit: Samo VidicFour-year-project: Steffi Schwaiger (nearest camera) and Kathi Schützenhöfer. Credit: Samo Vidic

Some people will envy him, others just laugh and say ‘Good luck’. But coach Danny Wood has to please four women this season. On the one hand, we have the Spanish athletes, Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez Steiner. Danny has been working with them for 10 years. Together they made it to the top 10 of the world. On Monday, the Austrian Volleyball Federation made it officially announced that Danny will also be the new coach of Steffi Schwaiger/Kathi Schützenhöfer.

“He is one of the best coaches in beach volleyball,” president Peter Kleinmann says. The main goal of this new formation are the Olympics 2020 in Tokyo, but before that, it’s all about the World Championships in Vienna. 

Same coach but different goals

“I am extremely motivated to work with Steffi and Kathi,” Danny tells us. At the same time, he is curious, how it will work out to coach two women’s teams from different nations. Before that, he coached the German men’s duo Kay Matysik and Jonathan Erdmann alongside Lili and Elsa. “We talked about it,” Danny says. “As soon as anyone does not feel comfortable with the situation, we will change it.” The concept could work out, as both teams have different goals at the moment. Liliana is expecting her first baby in August, and therefore we will not play tournaments. Elsa is trying to maintain her points and to stay in shape until Lili returns. For the World Championships and World Tour tournaments, she will play with either Angela Lobato, 24, or 33-year-old Amaranta Fernandez.

Holaaaaaa a tod@s!! 😃 Hemos estado un poquito ...

Holaaaaaa a tod@s!! 😃 Hemos estado un poquito desconectadas, pero todo tiene una explicación!! Jejeje Y es que este año no creo que nos dejen competir siendo 3 en nuestro lado del campo!! 😍😱😜 Pues si!! Lili va a ser mamá 🤰🏻y no va a poder competir junto a Elsa esta temporada!

For Schwaiger/Schützenhöfer, it is all about finding a good start together going into the new Olympic cycle. As they are Austria’s number one women team, they also have some expectations of facing the World Championships on home sand. Steffi Schwaiger, 30, knows how to meet them, as she won the European Championships in Klagenfurt with her sister Doris in 2013. But since then she had to overcome lots of changes. With Lisa Chukwuma and Babsi Hansel, who stopped playing 2016, she left two partnerships behind which didn’t work out as she hoped. Now she wants to improve with 23-year-old Kathi. “Steffi has proven in the past, how good she is,” Danny says. “For her, it’s about finding the right atmosphere to feel comfortable.” In Danny’s eyes, Kathi has a lot potential. “She is very talented and could be one of the best defenders on the World Tour. One experienced player and one young player – that is a good combination.”

Steffi considered quitting

Steffi is happy about her new coach. “At the end of last season I really thought about stop playing,” she admits. It then took quite a while until the federation could find a coach for them. “I am glad that I had the patience to wait because Danny has so much quality,” she says. “I am sure he is the right coach for us.” When it comes to the Spanish team he is also coaching, Steffi is not concerned. “We also get two very good practice partners, how could it be any better?”

This week Danny will work with the Austrian women in Vienna, then they will go to China for the 3-star tournament in Xiamen (20.-23.4.). Elsa is just playing 4 and 5-star events, so Danny will go afterwards to Tenerife to work with her. When he is with Elsa and her partner, Austria’s national coach, Alex Prietzel, who works with Lena Plesiutschnig/Cornelia Rimser and Nadine und Teresa Strauss, will look after Kathi and Steffi. And for the Spanish team, Danny has Felix Ferrarini as assistant coach.

Where Danny will go at the end of the season still has to be decided. In his contract with the Austrian federation, both teams have the possibility to end the cooperation after the World Championships. If, or when, Lili returns, is also open. Now, the 30-year-old is collecting information from Kerri Walsh Jennings or the Salgado sisters about the comeback as World Tour player with a child. “Her plan is to come back, but at the moment, she just wants to keep in touch with the ball,” Danny tells us.

But what if Elsa and her new partner will meet Steffi and Kathi during a tournament? “The teams decide,” Danny explains. Either I coach none of them or both. And if it will happen a lot this year, then it is a good sign anyway because it means that they made it to quarter or semifinal.”

Danny with Liliana/Elsa in RioDanny with Liliana/Elsa in Rio

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