Liese Abili is in his first season as an assistant volleyball coach at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Abili is not your average first-year coach. He is from the African country of Cameroon and has traveled the world, just to end up here in Stevens Point.
The story of Abili’s volleyball experience starts when he was in middle school. “I remember I was in a very poor school and I, personally with one teacher, helped make a net, found two bamboos, and we erected a court on grass,” Abili said.
Abili then moved on to high school where the volleyball program was a little more structured.
“When I went to high school in the urban area, I played more as there was a mud court, metal poles and a better net,” Abili said. “The high school took part in many competitions.”
After playing more in high school, Abili decided to try out for his local university team, while he was pursuing an undergraduate degree in law and a degree in Political Science.
“I had a real volleyball coach when I went to university,” Abili said. “I trained hard and made the cut and played for four years.”
While in college, Abili also participated in the National All-Cameroon Higher Institution Games four times, winning a gold and bronze medal.
“I remember cherishing the bronze medal a lot more than the gold,” Abili said. “This was because we had gone from being the underdogs to finishing third.”
“I remember the tears I burst into after the last point that sanctioned a 3-2 defeat of the championship holders from the previous year,” Abili said. “It is one of the most unforgettable and most glamorous moments in my sports life.”
After graduating from college, Abili decided that he wanted to travel the world and experience everything that was out there for him to see.
Abili has ventured to many places, including Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, China, Vietnam and Dubai.
In his travels he experienced many different things. He explained how in China they fight over the bill at restaurants because they want to display their love and affection to each other. “I thought that was such a cool thing,” Abili said.
Abili then traveled to South Africa where he coached for the University of Pretori. He helped lead the team to the National South African Volleyball Provincial League championship.
Throughout his travels, Abili said he has seen many things that might be different or scared him, but it didn’t prevent him from venturing out.
Abili is now in Stevens Point, where he has some adjustments to make. “Before I moved to Stevens Point, I had not lived in a place with less than two million people, so I find it interesting to always see the same faces every day,” Abili said. Abili moved to Stevens Point because his best friend from middle school, Sam Dinga, was a UWSP alumnus and convinced Abili to move here.
In addition to coaching, Abili is also pursuing a double major in both Public Administration and Political Science with a minor in Business Administration here at UWSP.
“It is really hard to gain the reflexes, especially if you have a job as well,” Abili said. “Time management becomes a focal aspect of your life.”
Even with the challenges of managing school and coaching, Abili is enjoying himself this season. “I am having a great time with the kids. They are very disciplined, respectful, hard workers, and they are winning overall. I am glad to be part of it,” Abili said.
It’s a very different place for Abili, but he has adapted very quickly. “The people around here are very welcoming and generally warm-hearted,” Abili said. “I like it here.”