2018-03-27 16:20:00 CET

Meet the beach's youngest coach...

Brazilian Iago Hercowitz is the youngest professional to coach on the World Tour in 2018. We talk to the 24-year-old...

Iago with Guto (left) and Vitor (right) during the 2018 Fort Lauderdale MajorIago with Guto (left) and Vitor (right) during the 2018 Fort Lauderdale Major

As we discussed a couple of months ago, experience is certainly a factor in beach volleyball. It would make sense, then, if Brazilians Vitor Felipe, 27, and Guto Cavalhaes, 24, looked for a veteran coach to lead their recently-formed team in the 2018 World Tour season. Instead they took a different route.

The Brazilians selected 24-year-old Iago Hercowitz, a former Brazilian Under-19 beach volleyball champion, making of him the youngest coach of the international tour. Despite of the young age, Iago has worked for the last three years in the staff of the legendary Letícia Pessoa, who currently coaches Agatha Bednarczuk and Duda Lisboa.

The veteran coach not only approved her disciple’s first solo flight, but she was also the one to come up with that idea to Guto, who she had coached a few years ago. The defender had played with Iago during their youth indoor career and both are good friends since then.

“I was looking for a coach after Pedro and I split last year and Letícia suggested me to go with Iago,” Guto told us. “I asked her about his age and if she thought he was ready and she vouched for him. Now I see she was absolutely right about it.”

“We know each other since we were 14, so I know what kind of person he is and that makes me trust him a lot. It has been better than I expected to be honest. He’s very professional and doesn’t even look he’s so young.”

Letícia and Iago during a World Tour tripLetícia and Iago during a World Tour trip

But that was not the first push Letícia, a three-time Olympic silver medalist, gave to Iago’s coaching career. In 2014, when she heard the talented athlete was ready to give up on his playing career and to dedicate his time to coaching, she didn’t waste time and invited him to join his staff.

Almost four years later, she feels like she couldn’t have made a better choice.

“I always dreamed about mentoring a young coach and I thought he could be who I was looking for,” Letícia explains. “I knew he was a volleyball nerd and when he decided he was done playing, I was convinced he could help me. We still talk a lot, we share ideas frequently and I hope this partnership can continue forever.”

That phone call changed Iago’s life. From a recently-retired young player and aspiring coach fighting for his space in a crowded scene in Brazil, he immediately saw himself surrounded by Olympians on his daily routine as he joined Letícia’s staff.

“I was very surprised by her call, it was totally out of the blue,” he acknowledges. “She asked what my dream was and I said that I wanted to be in the Olympics one day as a coach. She invited me to join her staff and at the time she was working with amazing teams in Ricardo/Emanuel and Juliana/Maria Antonelli, so I accepted, of course. And I learn so much from her every day.”

The young coach still works with Letícia as an assistant of the team of Agatha and Duda. But now he has several other tasks to deal with being the head coach of Guto and Vitor.

The intense routine has been, so far, extremely pleasant for Iago, who has his entire family connected with the sport in Brazil.

“I didn’t expect to coach my own team so early,” he admits. “Of course I was a little bit hesitant at first, but Letícia encouraged me and Guto and Vitor help me a lot. I think it’s a very interesting project because we are all very young and we are maturing together. It started with a friendly handshake, but we are all very professional about it.”

“I try not to think so much about my age. We are all adults and I see that they have a huge confidence on my work. Whatever I decide, I know they will be on my side and that helps me to feel more comfortable.”

A foto se repete!! Campeões da etapa do circuito mundial dentro de casa!! Parabéns a todos pela dedicação de cada dia! Meninas foram mais uma vez espetaculares 👏🏻👏🏻 #agathaeduda #circuitomundial # voleidepraia #primeirolugar

161 Likes, 3 Comments - Iago Hercowitz (@iagohercowitz) on Instagram: "A foto se repete!! Campeões da etapa do circuito mundial dentro de casa!! Parabéns a todos pela..."

Letícia’s influence is clearly expressed on Iago’s coaching style, as many would expect. The 24-year-old coach, who competed in the 2012 Under-19 Beach Volleyball World Championship as a player, is very explosive when coaching his team, but at the same time he tries to save encouraging words for his players when they most need.

“I try to remain calm and transmit serenity to them,” he explained. “One of the many things I learned from Letícia is that we need to do whatever it takes to have the athletes comfortable and focused only on playing. Instead of criticizing when they are going through a tough moment, I always try to motivate them.”

On his playing career, Iago represented Brazil in the 2012 Under-19 World Championships (Photocredit: FIVB)On his playing career, Iago represented Brazil in the 2012 Under-19 World Championships (Photocredit: FIVB)

Iago’s coaching journey started because of his dream of being in the Olympics one day and even though he acknowledges he’s one step closer now working with one of the Brazilian top teams, he is very realistic to admit there’s still a long way in front of him to be roamed.

“That’s still my dream,” he says. “Of course my goal of being in the Olympics one day influences every step of my career, but I have no rush and I try to stay grounded all the time. I don’t have much experience in the World Tour, so it’s very easy to get ahead of yourself when you are in huge tournaments as the Beach Major Series. But I’m young and I’ll have several opportunities to accomplish it.”

You are right, Iago. Time will definitely not be a problem for you!

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