How olympic medalist Leandro Vissotto fits well into USF volleyball’s vision

Volleyball assistant coach Leandro Vissotto, born in Brazil, moved to Florida with his wife and three kids in May. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Four-time world champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist is an understated introduction for USF’s new volleyball assistant coach Leandro Vissotto.

Those accomplishments are just the tip of the iceberg for what the honorable Brazilian volleyball player has accomplished in his career as a player.

Performing on some of the biggest competitive stages in the world, Vissotto has a well-rounded view on how a successful volleyball team should run both on and off the court.

USF announced the commitment of Vissotto on June 23.

Vissotto’s experience playing worldwide has allowed him to train under some of the best coaching staffs, such as Brazilian volleyball coach Bernardo “Bernardinho” Rocha de Rezende, a seven-time Olympic medalist.

“I have worked 15 years with [Bernardo Rocha de Rezende]. I learned so much from him not only on a technical level, but [also] on how to have the right behavior if you want to be a winner,” Vissotto said.

“You have to have a [winner mentality] on a daily basis and not only during the game.”

His strong game-winning mentality is something Vissotto embodies on a daily basis. It’s arguably one of the best assets he has brought to USF this season.

Coach Jolene Shepardson said despite his endless accolades as a player, one of the things that stood out to her was his humility as a person.

Having a familial atmosphere is a crucial aspect Shepardson tries to instill in her team’s culture.

“To be able to not have a big ego is very important in our profession because you are not a player anymore. It’s not about us, we have to help these young women to be successful,” Shepardson said.

“When you have a talented male [coach], you want to make sure they inspire them the right way and not intimidate them. One of the first comments [Vissotto] said was ‘You guys are professionals [and] I’m going to treat you as a professional.’”

As an offensive player, Vissotto has brought his technical style of coaching to USF focusing on blocking and capitalizing on the Bulls’ serves. He also has emphasized on looking back at game statistics and video footage for extra help.

USF has seen results since these changes were implemented. The team has had their best conference season start since Shepardson’s commencement with the program in 2020.

Shepardson said the team’s serving has always been their strong suit. However, since Vissotto’s arrival, he’s noticed that USF is more likely to score on their serving than their reception.

“He played in Italy [where] they dive into stats. I’m even learning a lot like what our volume metrics and our stats are saying about us. He’s able to give [the team] the facts and that’s helping our young women to be more efficient,” Shepardson said.

Both Vissotto and Shepardson have worked cohesively together since the beginning of the season. Her open ear to Vissotto’s critiques has made his transition to USF easier, he said.

Along with Shepardson’s cooperation, Vissotto naturally has a familial characteristic as well. He said it’s important to embrace this if the program wants to have a successful team.

“I just try to be myself, I’m a family guy,” Vissotto said. “I have three kids, a wife [and] I love my family. It’s something really natural for me to have this behavior because nobody does anything alone.”

“We have to be united if you want to reach big things. [The staff] tries to work to the better of the team [and] the program. All the time [the staff] tries to do the best for everyone,” Vissotto said.

Vissotto said his goal as a coach here is to help the team win more championships. Although the team has improved from previous seasons, Vissotto said he still sees room for improvement.

Since Vissotto doesn’t play professionally anymore, a way he would like to continue his legacy at South Florida is to help strengthen the game-winning vision of the program.

“That is the culture I want to create. As a player, it’s easy because I can do the job myself. As a coach [though] it’s not as easy to stay out of the court [and] help guide them,” Vissotto said. “I want to be the champion of the conference. My goal is to always be on the top.”