As he built his empire of multinational information technology, Thomas J. Watson took a rather blunt approach when it came to establishing personal relationships.

"Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with. Make friends who will force you to lever yourself up."

Watson’s desire to be brutally honest with those who were closest to him, to go along with his willingness to accept harsh criticism from his most trusted confidants, paid off rather handsomely for the revolutionary 20th century entrepreneur.

Thus, International Business Machines Corporation has become one of the world’s largest employers since Watson’s death in 1956.

If you prefer acronyms, that would be IBM.

Brad Disandis won’t be leading a cast of noteworthy tycoons. Not yet, at least.

However, much like Watson, Disandis has the unfortunate duty to tell it like it is.

Six young women will take their positions on the volleyball court when showtime approaches. The rest will have to take care of itself.

"This is the deepest team we’ve had in my years of coaching as far as depth and talent," said Disandis, who enters his fourth year as the Explorers head coach. "There has been fierce competition all summer. It has brought out the best in everyone."

That "fierce competition" has paved the way to what Disandis hopes will be a life that leads to the greater good. It looks promising so far.

Several team members have made the gym their second home throughout the summer. As a result of this tireless commitment to serving, passing and hitting, some of these same maniacally driven teenagers have helped their club teams excel at junior national tournaments.

"We started open gyms in May and we’ve played in a summer league," Disandis said. "Most of the girls have played deep into the summer."

Such enthusiasm and fierce determination to push themselves have been a pleasing sight for Disandis.

This dog-eat-dog point of view will be highly recommended when the new season arrives.

After all, the piercing, gruesome facts are inescapable: Hudson hasn’t been terribly successful in the last four years.

Since they reached the Division I state semifinals in 2013, the Explorers have suffered losing seasons ever since.

Last year was no exception. Hudson finished just 8-17 overall and 3-11 in the Suburban League National Conference.

Nonetheless, this muscle-bound contingent of volleyball goliaths is not for those who tread shallow water. In fact, some of its most heralded participants have collected quite a few prestigious honors over the years.

And they’re not interested in adding any more brass stars to their Walk of Fame.

"The conference is still going to be brutal," Disandis said. "It’s not going to be an easy road. Everybody in the conference can beat each other. It will open the door for a lot of other teams."

Disandis certainly hopes his crew of resolute leapers will be one of them. Thankfully, their humbling conference encounters did not crush their spirits. Not in the least.

Despite their plethora of sound defeats to their robust rivals, the Explorers have proven to be quite formidable in do-or-die situations.

Last year, Hudson toppled third-seeded Akron Archbishop Hoban and then nearly pulled off a stunning upset over second-seeded Stow-Munroe Falls in postseason play.

By the way, the Bulldogs happen to be association members of the National Conference. Here’s another juicy nugget: The Explorers have reached the district competition three times in the last four years.

"We can turn the corner this year," Disandis said. "We have the talent to do some really good things."

If those illustrious objectives are going to be achieved, Hudson’s throng of gym rats will have to accept a basic principle. It’s a safe bet that same concept helped launch Watson’s "Big Blue" to extraordinary heights.

"Competition is the disciplinarian of the market economy."

Thriving in this particular "market economy," on the other hand, probably won’t happen without confidence and a hint of swagger.

Or as legendary writer Mark Twain so eloquently put it: "Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great."

"The girls have some lofty goals," Disandis said. "We’re looking forward to a great season."

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, faceto@recordpub.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.