Women Coaches in Collegiate Men's Volleyball
It is fairly uncommon to see women coaching men in collegiate athletics in some sports. In basketball and football, it is extremely rare. In other sports such as swimming, track, and tennis, it can be more commonplace.
In this article, the focus will be on those women who have broken through the glass ceiling and coached in the sport of collegiate men's volleyball.
Former Head Coaches
The following coaches previously coached in collegiate men's volleyball at the Division III level.
Lauren Caiaccia - Hunter
One of the first women to coach a collegiate men's volleyball team, she paved the way for those after her. Hired in 1999 as an assistant athletic director, women's volleyball coach, and men's volleyball coach, she proceeded to build both programs into winners.
She coached through the 2006 women's season, winning four CUNYAC Women's titles (1999-2002). She was the CUNYAC Women's Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2001.
On the men's side, she guided Hunter to CUNYAC titles in 1999, 2001, and 2003 going a combined 42-2 in league play during those years.
Alison Stack - Baruch
Stack served as head men's and women's volleyball coach for seven years at Baruch College in New York City. She compiled a record of 148-101 with women along with a 149-73 mark on the men's side. Stack's teams won a combined seven City University of New York Athletic conference championships – five by the men, two by the women. She's taken the women to two NCAA tournaments and the men to the Molten Final Four and an NCAA Elite Eight appearance. Stack's men's team also made it to the NCAA Final Four in 2013.
In addition to her coaching duties at Baruch, Stack also served as assistant athletic director of compliance and student academic services. Prior to her time at Baruch, Stack was assistant director of facilities and operations at Columbia University. Before that she was managing director of the Long Island Volleyball Association.
Stack holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Bryant College and a Master of Arts degree in education from Adelphi University. She was also an adjunct professor at Adelphi.
Becky Fletcher - SUNYIT
Fletcher enjoyed a four-year stint as both the head men's and women's volleyball coach at the State University of New York Institute of Technology (SUNYIT). Fletcher accomplished a lot in four years with the Wildcats, turning around a struggling women's program while starting the men's program from scratch in 2008.
On the women's side, Fletcher led SUNYIT to three North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Tournament appearances and a pair of runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2009. She was named the league's Coach of the Year in 2008 and won 61 total matches in the last three years.
For the men, Fletcher guided the team to five wins in its inaugural season in 2008 while in 2010, the men's squad led the nation in team and individual digs. This spring, the Wildcats made their first postseason appearance in the program's brief history.
In 2009, Fletcher was honored by the AVCA as one of thirty up-and-coming coaches under the age of 30 years old in the sport of volleyball at all collegiate levels.
Krishna Dass - Sarah Lawrence
After the Sarah Lawrence women's volleyball team went 2-19 in 2011, Dass turned the program around to go 19-13 in 2012, the winningest season of any Sarah Lawrence program. Her Gryphons went 5-1 in conference play and won the Hudson Valley Women's Athletic Conference Championship tournament. For her efforts, Dass was named HVWAC Volleyball Coach of the Year.
On the men's side, Dass was critical in elevating the team from club status, directing the team in its first year as a varsity program in 2012.
Stephanie Perna - Southern Vermont
Perna took over the Mountaineers’ men’s program for the 2015 season, becoming the seventh SVC coach for the team. She had been a girls’ modified high school head coach in New York and played competitively for indoor and outdoor teams in the Syracuse area.
"Coach Perna provided the finishing touch to what we believe will be a special season for our men's volleyball team,” commented McDonough. “She provided leadership and mentoring to an experienced and talented group of athletes. We are indeed grateful for the commitment Stephanie made."
While studying Travel and Tourism at Herkimer County Community College, Perna was a member of the women’s volleyball team for two years. She enrolled at HCCC after graduating from Westhill where she was a four-year player, being named to the All-Country Volleyball Team of Central New York her senior season. (Source)
Current Head Coaches in D3
The follow group of women are currently head coaches in men's volleyball for the 2015 season.
Antonia Sweet - Purchase
Sweet will begin her Panther career in January 2016 as the men's team returns to practice the first week of the New Year. In the process, she replaces head coach Tom Callahan on the men's side. Callahan stepped away from the coaching position last month to pursue other endeavors. On the women's side, Sweet replaces Albana Krasniqi, who held the position in the interim while the Panthers searched for a full-time replacement.
An ecstatic Sweet said she is "thrilled" to be a Panther and "thankful" for the opportunity presented by Bisignano and the Purchase athletic department. She comes to the Panthers by way of Vassar College, where she held an assistant coaching position. She was a mainstay at VC dating back to 1998 and had two stints at the college, one from 1998-2010 and then another from 2014-15. After serving as a volunteer assistant men's club volleyball coach at Marist College in 2014, she returned to VC as an assistant in 2014.
Prior to her work with the Red Foxes, Sweet was also an assistant women's volleyball coach at Bard College in 2012, where she helped the Raptors more than double their win total from the previous season. In her previous stint at a Brewer, Sweet was an assistant men's and women's volleyball coach, where she assisted with recruiting, fundraising, community service and game preperation. During the 2009-10 seasons, she was the head men's coach at VC, helping the Brewers to a Metro Division championship, while coaching the Metro Division Player and Newcomer of the Year during a Coach of the Year campaign.
Sweet also held coaching stops at the University of South Dakota from 1996-97 and Northwestern State University in 1995-96, both as a graduate assistant. She served as a volunteer assistant volleyball coach at Vermillion High School in 1996-98, helping the squad to a Class A South Dakota State title. Sweet has also served as the head girls' varsity coach at Fairport School District, The Aquinas Institute, while also holding the club head men's position and at the University of Rochester.
Sheila Gisbrecht - Elms
Sheila Gisbrecht enters her sixth season as the Elms College head men’s and women’s volleyball coach.
In 2012, Coach Gisbrecht’s squad made men’s volleyball history when it won its second New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) tournament championship in four years and earned an automatic bid to the first-ever NCAA Division III Championship in the sport. Coach Gisbrecht, who directed the team to a 9-3 league record and an overall record of 20-8 which tied the program’s record for wins in a single season, was named the NECC Coach of the Year for the second time in four years.
Since taking over the program in the 2009 season, Coach Gisbrecht has built Elms’ men’s volleyball team into one of the elite teams in the region. Her 2009 squad notched a 20-13 record (tied for the program’s highest single-season win total) and won the inaugural NECC Championship, as well as the school’s first-ever Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championship.
Coach Gisbrecht, who was named NECC Coach of the Year in 2009, has had one player garner NECC Player of the Year honors, four players earn rookie of the year honors, and had eight players named First-Team All-NECC, three named Second Team All-NECC and seven players named Honorable Mention All-NECC.
Prior to Elms College, Coach Gisbrecht served as the assistant coach of Ohio Wesleyan University’s women’s volleyball program for 11 seasons. During Coach Gisbrecht’s tenure, the Battling Bishops posted five 20-plus win seasons.
Coach Gisbrecht’s collegiate and professional playing credentials are equally impressive. During her collegiate career, she was a four-year volleyball letter winner at Ohio Wesleyan, a three-time All-North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) selection, and she capped her career by earning NCAC Player of the Year honors as a senior in 1994.
Also a four-year track and field letter winner for the Battling Bishops, Coach Gisbrecht was a two-time NCAA All-American as well as an Academic All-American. In 2005, she was inducted into Ohio Wesleyan’s Athletics Hall of Fame.
Coach Gisbrecht earned her bachelor’s degree with a teaching certification from Ohio Wesleyan and received her master’s degree in exercise and sports studies at Smith College. In addition to her coaching duties, she serves as the athletic department’s strength and conditioning coach. (Source)
Stephanie Carrington - Bard
Stefanie Carrington came to Bard in the summer of 2013.
Before coaching at Bard, she was the Head Women's Volleyball Coach at Dominican College, an NCAA Div. II institution. In her first year (2008), the team went 2-25, and in her last year (2012) they went 26-8, including 19-0 in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference. The Chargers went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history in 2012.
Carrington was the CACC Coach of the Year in both 2009 and 2012. In 2012 and 2013, she was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association Thirty Under 30, an award which recognizes the best coaches in the country under the age of 30.
She is also the Head Women's Volleyball Coach at Bard and an Assistant Athletic Director. She helps oversee ACE (Academic Co-Curricular Excellence), a support program for Bard student-athletes. (Source)
During her time at Dominican, she was also Director of Operations and a Head Coach at Downstate Juniors Volleyball Club in Peekskill, N.Y.
Carrington graduated Magna Cum Laude from Marist College in 2007 with a degree in Economics, and a Minor in Music. She coached the junior varsity girls team and assisted with the varsity team at Haldane High School in Cold Spring, N.Y., before heading to Dominican.
Jacqui Dauphinais - Yeshiva
Though she will be entering her first year as head coach, Dauphinais is no stranger to the men's volleyball program at Yeshiva. Last season she served as assistant coach for the program and helped the Maccabees to an undefeated first place regular season finish in Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (HVIAC) play, followed by a postseason championship.
"I'm excited to take the helm of an already fantastic volleyball program at Yeshiva University," said Dauphinais. "I'm looking forward to working with the team and helping them grow as volleyball players."
Prior to Yeshiva, Dauphinais, a 2006 graduate of the College of Mount Saint Vincent (CMSV), served as student team manager of the men's volleyball program at the University. She was also a two sport athlete with the Dolphins, lettering on the women's volleyball team for four seasons and softball team for three.
While with the women's volleyball team, she was team captain for two seasons and was a Hudson Valley Women's Athletic Conference (HVWAC) All-Conference player in 2004 and 2005. She was a part of the program when it won the HVWAC championship in 2002. (Source)
Jillian Kalvik - Sarah Lawrence
In addition to her debut at the helm of the men's volleyball program, the 2014-15 academic year will feature Kalvik's second season as SLC's Women's Volleyball Head Coach. She also serves as the department's Operations Coordinator, overseeing varsity equipment inventory and other logistics.
Kalvik brought nearly a decade of coaching experience to SLC, including four seasons coaching intercollegiate volleyball. Most recently, she was the assistant coach at Eckerd College, where she helped lead the 2011 Tritons to a 27-5 record and their first-ever appearance in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball Championship.
Previously, Kalvik spent three seasons as assistant volleyball coach at University of Chicago, where she helped with all aspects of the team, including recruiting, practices and player development. After the Maroons went 7-26 in 2007, Kalvik came aboard and posted a 77-43 mark during her tenure, leading the '10 team to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship.
Kalvik also spent two seasons coaching women's basketball at Macalester College and was a high school volleyball and basketball coach for four years.
Kalvik was a nationally-acclaimed student-athlete while playing at Concordia University, St. Paul. There, she set volleyball team records in kills (1,682) and kills per set (3.75). The three-time captain was named a Daktronics All-American in 2003 after posting 508 kills and leading her squad to the NCAA Division II Championship match. Kalvik also played basketball at Concordia and ranks among the program's career leaders in rebounds and steals. Her squad finished the 2003-04 season as the No. 10 team in the nation.
Kalvik graduated cum laude in 2005 and went on to receive her master's degree from the University of Chicago in 2012. (Source)
Current Head Coaches at Other Divisions
The following coaches coach outside of Division III of the NCAA.
Natalie Wildes - Cardinal Stritch
Wildes enters her sixth season at the helm of the Cardinal Stritch University women's volleyball program. In August 2012, Wildes also officially took the reigns as head coach of the men's volleyball program after serving as interim head coach since March 2012.
Wildes has led the women’s program to 28 wins each of the last two seasons. During 2013, the Wolves finished 28-13, including a 15-2 mark in the CCAC. Stritch qualified for the NAIA Tournament before falling to Dordt College in the first round.
Wildes, a Brookfield, Wis. native, returned to the greater Milwaukee area after spending two seasons as the top assistant coach at Lewis University (Ill.). Wildes was part of two Great Lakes Valley Conference championships and two berths in the NCAA Division II tournament, including a Sweet 16 run in 2007. During those two seasons, Lewis compiled a 63-12 overall record and 31-4 mark in the GLVC.
Before Lewis, Wildes spent one season as an assistant at Earlham College, where the Quakers’ 14-15 record in 2006 was their best since the turn of the century. Wildes arrived at Earlham after two seasons assisting her former head coach at UW-Parkside, compiling an 18-42 overall mark with the Rangers.
Wildes earned four letters as a setter for Parkside, receiving All-GLVC honors and ranking second in school history for assists. She also earned the Ranger Award for Parkside athletes who best exemplify the attributes of intercollegiate athletes and excel in representing UWP on and off the field of play. (Source)
Nickie Sanlin - McKendree
Nickie Sanlin joined the McKendree University coaching staff as an assistant coach for the women's volleyball team prior to the 2012 season. In the spring of 2013, she was named as the first head coach of the Bearcats' men's volleyball squad. In November 2014, Sanlin was promoted to the role of women's head volleyball coach, thus she serves as the head coach for both McKendree volleyball programs.
Sanlin is no stranger to the world of men’s volleyball. For three years, Sanlin has coached boy’s club volleyball programs in the St. Louis metro area. She currently serves as a coach for the St. Louis Performance volleyball program. Sanlin has also been a coach for the USA High Performance program, which is a part of Team USA Volleyball.
In addition to her club experience, Sanlin served as the boy’s head volleyball coach at Althoff Catholic High School in 2011 and 2012. Sanlin is also a member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Advisory Committee for boy’s volleyball. (Source)