Mendes joins Northwestern volleyball staff: ‘I could tell there was something special going on here’

Pedro Mendes was named an assistant coach for Northwestern volleyball in February. (Photo courtesy of

By Elena Shklyar
Medill Reports

Coming off their winningest season in the past decade in 2022, the Northwestern volleyball team has added a new member to the coaching staff. Pedro Mendes comes to the program after most recently working as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Minnesota for the 2022 season. 


[Video of Mendes and players at practice]

[Light music playing]

PEDRO MENDES: When we played them last year, I could tell that there was something special going on here. I felt like for me personally, I wanted to be in a place where relationships and, you know, people come before anything else. And at the same time, you want to compete and you want to make sure that you are playing at a good level.

[Video of Mendes coaching at practice]

MENDES: And, no question, Northwestern was what I was looking for.  The coaching staff here is just amazing, and the athletes, they really know what they want. So, I felt like that was a no-brainer decision. I just wanted to, and I’m glad it worked out.

SHANE DAVIS, Northwestern volleyball head coach: We are very excited to add Pedro to our program. Not only is he a great volleyball coach but an unbelievable person.  It was evident right away on his first day on campus during his interview that he is passionate about people and really passionate about getting to know people. It was demonstrated in his interview when he connected so well with our players. I knew at that moment that Pedro was the coach for us, and I’m just so happy that he accepted the position with us at Northwestern.

[Video of Mendes coaching at practice]

MENDES: It was definitely that piece of building connections and relationships and helping people through volleyball to become better people. I felt like towards the end of my career, I was able to get good results out of talking and communicating and engaging with teammates that were younger than I was, and I realized that that was what coaching was about. And I felt like, well, if I feel like I am already doing it now as a player, I felt like why not keep going?

[Video of Mendes at practice]

LEILANI DODSON, Northwestern volleyball player: First practice with Pedro was awesome, he was super knowledgeable about volleyball and just so excited to work with us.

MENDES: My main goal is to help young athletes to get out there into the world and be able to make good decisions for themselves, and I feel like sports is a very good tool to get you a little more mature and also like a little more resilient in life. I feel like when you get older, nobody gives you anything for free, and I feel like that’s what it is on the court when competing, and I hope that I can kind of help them to get out there and feel like they are ready for the world.

DAVIS: I’m excited about where we are going with Pedro and what he is adding to our program.

MENDES: Go Cats, yes!


Elena Shklyar is a sports media graduate student at Medill. You can connect her on Twitter and LinkedIn