Cheney Free Press -

By PAUL DELANEY
Staff Reporter 

New Eastern Washington volleyball coach introduced

Leslie Flores-Cloud has plans to turn around once top-notch Eagles' program

 

EWU athletics

New Eastern Washington University volleyball coach Leslie Flores-Cloud and daughter Kamryn had her first introduction to the media on June 25.

New Eastern Washington University volleyball coach Leslie Flores-Cloud had her first official live introduction to the media June 25, and like some of those before her had to vie for attention with a youngster.

Flores-Cloud comes to EWU from Drake University where she served as the assistant and associate head coach at the Des Moines, Iowa school for the past five seasons.

In the past, young children have stolen at least parts of the show when former athletics director Bill Chaves, as well as coaches like Beau Baldwin, Aaron Best and Shantay Legans met the media.

With daughter Kamryn on her lap, for a while at least, Flores-Cloud let those assembled in a press conference in EWU's new student performance center in Reese Court know that she and her family were excited to join the EWU family - and be in the Northwest.

Flores-Cloud was upstaged by her daughter midway through the press conference who had had a 2-year-old moment. Dad, Aaron, swept the toddler away and got her quickly calmed down before she returned to the room.

But Flores-Cloud was all business throughout the 10-minute meet and greet.

"I'm excited to join a program with such good volleyball history," she said. "(Eastern) has always been a spot on my radar."

That history, which first made headlines in 2001 with an upset win in the initial round of the NCAA volleyball tournament under Wade Benson, is what Flores-Cloud wants to revive.

Benson led the Eagles to new heights before leaving for an Auburn University job in 2006. He returned to Cheney in 2013 but a bout of cancer forced Benson to ultimately retire in 2015. Michael King was chosen as his successor but was fired in March of this year. Flores-Cloud hopes to revive a program that has staggered a bit in the past 12 years

Getting closer to family was one of her goals - Flores-Cloud is from California - but joining "the Eastern family," was also important.

"My husband is excited to be back in the Pacific Northwest, he's a Whitworth (University) alum," Flores-Cloud said.

The family spent the past weekend in the area, getting to know things, and searching for a house in a tight real estate market, "Keeping my fingers crossed," Flores-Cloud said.

That might be her approach for the upcoming season.

Things in Cheney are not in the same shape as at Drake. There, the team with which she was associated, started off at 2-28 in 2013. But by 2017 came the most successful season in program history with a record of 23-10 (.697) as the team broke into the Top-100 RPI.

"Every class has to come in and beat the last one," Flores-Cloud said. That comes from what Flores-Cloud called a "competitive culture," which will be a constant focus in the gym.

She likes the level of volleyball played in the region and sees it as a great place to begin rebuilding the program. "In my five years at Drake we had two commits from the Pacific Northwest," Flores-Cloud said.

"Hard work has gotten me here today and if I was standing up you'd see how short I am in a sport of really, really tall women," Flores-Cloud said. "Obstacles like that really make me go."

Prior to Drake, Flores-Cloud served as a graduate assistant at the University of Southern California where the Trojans had a 29-5 record and a Final Four appearance in 2011.

Flores-Cloud was a setter at NCAA Division III University of La Verne in California where she helped lead the squad to Final Four appearances in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Additionally, she earned All-Tournament team recognition in 2005 and was named an NCSA (Next College Student Athlete) All-American Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year in 2007. She graduated with her bachelor's of art degree in social science from La Verne in 2007 and her master's in physical education from Azusa Pacific University in 2009.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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