Buccaneer volleyball coach led team to back-to-back national titles
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) named Blinn College head coach Erin Mellinger its Two-Year College Coach of the Year here Thursday after she led the Buccaneers to their second national championship in three seasons.
Mellinger, who was also named an AVCA Two-Year College Southwest Region Coach of the Year, was presented the award at the 2014 Jostens Coaches Honors Luncheon. This marked Mellinger’s second consecutive season to be recognized as a Southwest Region Coach of the Year.
Under Mellinger’s guidance, the Buccaneers went 40-1 and claimed the Region XIV Conference and National Junior College Athletic Association Division I championships.
“I am very honored and humbled,” Mellinger said. “I wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for my players.”
Mellinger said that the mental focus of her players made the difference in the season.
Sonny Lewis, Owens Community College volleyball coach and member of the AVCA committee that helped to decide the national coach of the year. Lewis said that the committee looks not only at the most recent year but also at how well the team has progressed during the coach’s tenure at a school.
During her three seasons at Blinn College, Mellinger has compiled a 106-11 overall record and captured two national championships. Under Mellinger’s guidance, the Buccaneers have improved their record each year, going 27-7 in Mellinger’s first season and improving to 39-3 in 2013 and 40-1 this year.
Mellinger came to Blinn from the College of Southern Idaho, where she helped guide the Golden Eagles to the 2009 national championship as an assistant coach. In Mellinger’s five seasons, CSI made three national tournament appearances, won two Region 18 championships and posted an overall record of 148-48.
Prior to her stint at CSI, Mellinger spent two years as head coach at Lewis-Clark State College, an NAIA Division I program, for the 2005 and 2006 seasons. She was also the head coach at Independence (Kan.) Community College, where she led the NJCAA Division I program to a 62-21 record over two seasons, coached two All-Americans and was named the NJCAA District K coach of the year.
Mellinger’s own collegiate playing career began in the junior college ranks with Treasure Valley (Ore.) Community College, where she helped the school reach the Scenic West Athletic Conference tournament for the first time in 19 years. A defensive specialist, she then transferred to Lewis-Clark for one season before concluding her career at Chicago State University.
Mellinger has a master’s degree in physical education and teaches kinesiology. She and her husband Gary have two daughters – Piper and Paige.
“None of this would even be possible without the lessons learned from former coaching mentors,” Mellinger said. “I felt the support from my husband, assistant coaches and players and it would not have happened without them.”
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 30 NJCAA national championships since 1987. For more information, visit www.buccaneersports.com.
(Story courtesy Jake Gordon, Blinn Information)