July 14, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Debbie Brown – a 10-time conference coach of the year and finalist for national coach of the year in 2005 – has signed a multi-year contract extension to remain the head coach of the University of Notre Dame’s women’s volleyball program, it was announced today by director of athletics Kevin White. After leading the Irish to one of their best seasons ever in 2005, Brown will begin her 16th year at the helm this fall.
“Debbie is one of the top volleyball coaches in the country, and we are thrilled that she will be continuing her work at Notre Dame,” said White. “From the time she arrived here, she has built a program that consistently competes with the best in the nation. Debbie is extremely well-respected in the volleyball community and continues to conduct herself with class in all that she does, providing an outstanding model for her student-athletes. Regularly stressing both academics and character – in addition to success on the court – she runs the type of program that we strive for at Notre Dame.”
“I’m extremely happy to have been offered the opportunity to continue coaching at Notre Dame,” said Brown. “I’ve been blessed to work in an environment with wonderful student-athletes, an outstanding support staff – including my assistant coaches – and a supportive administration. I’m proud of the accomplishments of our players, both academically and athletically, and I eagerly look forward to leading our program to even greater heights in the very near future.”
Last season, Brown’s squad peaked at fifth in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll before posting its first 30-win season since 1994 (all four defeats came in five-game matches). The Irish went 5-1 against top-15 teams, earned an all-time high seeding of No. 6 in their 14th consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship (ND is one of only eight schools with such a streak). Notre Dame played host to the first two rounds and advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since 1997 before falling in five games. The Irish – which had a 15-match winning streak and spent a program-record 10 weeks in the AVCA top 10 – went 13-1 to win their 10th BIG EAST Conference regular-season championship (in 11 years of league membership) and then won in five games at Louisville in a battle of top-10 teams to claim ND’s ninth conference tournament title. The squad also featured the first player in program history – 2006 graduate Lauren Brewster – to be both an athletic and Academic All-American. For her efforts, Brown became the first five-time BIG EAST volleyball coach of the year and was named the top coach in the AVCA’s Northeast Region, making her one of the finalists for the national award.
Her tenure as the Irish head coach has seen Notre Dame compile a 374-122 (.754) record, and she has a 491-205 (.705) career mark as a head coach. Brown’s Notre Dame squads have finished in the AVCA top 25 on nine occasions and reached the final 16 in the NCAAs six times – including a quarterfinal run in 1993. The Brown era has seen 15 consecutive winning seasons, with all but one featuring 20+ victories. Her teams have been outstanding against conference opposition, winning 14 regular-season titles and 13 league tournaments, while compiling a staggering 147-7 (.955) regular-season record against conference rivals (83-1 at home). Brown’s squads have been outstanding at home, accruing a 181-29 (.862) record, including five winning streaks of 14 or more matches. Individually, her Irish players have earned All-America accolades 14 times and have combined for 54 all-conference honors (nearly four per season), including 33 on the first team.
Brown, a native of the Los Angeles suburb of El Segundo, was a star during her playing days, first at El Segundo High School (from 1972-75), then at the University of Southern California (1976-77), and finally with the United States National Team. She led the Women of Troy to a 72-1 record and two national championships during her collegiate seasons, being a first-team All-America outside hitter in both campaigns and twice winning the Mikasa Award as the nation’s top all-around player. She then left USC to train full-time with the national team and became a co-captain of that squad, which took fifth place in the 1978 World Championships and figured to be medal contenders in the 1980 Olympics before the United States elected to boycott those games.
Brown returned to school at Arizona State in 1980 and was a student assistant coach for two seasons before finishing her degree in 1982. She then was an assistant at Central Arizona in ’82 before returning to ASU as its head coach in 1983. After six seasons that included five NCAA bids, four national top-20 finishes, and the 1986 Pac-10 Coach of the Year Award, Brown – who had been a consultant since 1986 – took a leave of absence in ’88 to become an assistant coach for the U.S. national team, before accepting a full-time national team position in ’89. She played a role in the United States claiming the bronze medal in the 1990 World Championships and then began her career at Notre Dame in 1991.
The latest Brown-led squad – which returns several key players from last year’s record-setting team and gets an added boost from a seven-member freshman class that was ranked by Volleyball magazine as the third-best group in the nation – will begin the 2006 season on Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. (ET) against Bowling Green to begin a stretch of five home matches in eight days.