Two-time National Coach of the Year Rob Patrick has developed a tradition of excellence since coming to Tennessee 15 years ago. Following his arrival at Rocky Top, Patrick has become one of the nation's top coaches and helped the Lady Vols attain levels of success never before reached in Knoxville, as evidenced by NCAA Tournament berths in seven of the last eight years, including a run to the Final Four in 2005.
Under Patrick, UT has compiled nine 20-win seasons in the last 12 years, including eight of the last 10 and the current stretch of four in a row. Prior to Patrick's arrival at UT in 1997, the Lady Vols last recorded a 20-win season in 1988. His nine-year stretch of winning seasons from 1998-2006 marked the longest-such run in program history, topping the previous high of seven, set from 1978-84.
While at the helm of the Orange & White, Patrick has averaged over 20 wins a season, and has had players earn 38 All-SEC honors and 22 All-South Region accolades.
This past season, Patrick and the Lady Vols earned their first outright conference championship in program history after winning 19 conference matches. For his efforts, Patrick was named the SEC Coach of the Year, as the squad finished the year with 28 wins and posted a winning percentage of .875 - the second highest mark in program history.
The Big Orange earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament in 2011, advancing to the second round and concluding the year ranked 19th nationally. UT started three freshmen and two sophomores in almost every match, while never being swept.
In 2010, Patrick guided the Orange & White to a 25-win season, earning an NCAA Tournament berth and reaching the second round. The team's winning percentage of .781 was the third highest during Patrick's tenure, only behind 2011 and the 2004 squad that won 32 matches and had a winning percentage of .914
The Big Orange finished the 2009 campaign with a then-school-record 16 wins in SEC action, finishing in a tie for second before earning its fifth bid to the NCAA Tournament in the past six seasons where it reached the second round.
Following a rebuilding season in 2007, the Lady Vols regrouped to post the third-largest turnaround in NCAA Division I in 2008. UT doubled its win total from 11 to 22 and returned to the NCAA Tournament after a one-year absence. For his efforts, Patrick was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) South Region Coach of the Year, as well as the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, for the second time in his career.
During his 15-year tenure at Rocky Top, Patrick has compiled an impressive 320-154 (.675) record and he became the program's all-time winningest coach with a 3-0 victory over Auburn on Oct. 3, 2008.
Under Patrick's guidance, 16 different student-athletes have been named All-Americans on a total of 22 occasions, including four in 2011. Kelsey Robinson claimed second-team honors in 2011, while Leslie Cikra, DeeDee Harrison and Mary Pollmiller all garnered All-American Honorable Mention nods. Nikki Fowler claimed honorable mention honors from the AVCA in 2008, before picking up the All-American honor alongside libero Chloe Goldman in 2009.
Prior to those awards, the last players to accomplish the feat were Yuliya Stoyanova and Sarah Blum who both picked up AVCA Honorable Mention accolades as well, following the 2006 campaign.
In 2005, four Lady Vols earned national distinction for their achievements on the court. A pair of seniors, middle blocker Kristen Andre and libero Amy Morris, both claimed All-America status from Vball Magazine, being named to the first and third teams, respectively, while fellow classmate setter Julie Knytych, sophomore outside hitter Stoyanova (both honorable mention) and Andre (second team) also earned AVCA All-American status.
Those awards came on the heels of the program's first ever appearance in the NCAA Final Four and highest year-end ranking in school history. During that memorable year, the Lady Vols fought past some early season obstacles and compiled a stellar 25-9 overall record, finishing sixth in the nation after falling to eventual national champion Washington in the national semifinals of the NCAA Tournament in San Antonio, Texas. For his efforts, Patrick was named the 2005 NCAA National Coach of the Year by VBall Magazine.
The season before its run to the Final Four, Tennessee put together an equally impressive season in which it emerged victorious in a school-record 32 matches, while dropping just three contests all year.
The Lady Vols accomplished a number of goals in 2004, including winning an SEC regular-season title for the first time in school history, defeating Florida, 3-2, on the final day of the season to tie the Gators with identical 15-1 marks. Just a mere seven days later, the Orange & White made it two titles in two weeks, topping UF, once again by a 3-2 score, in the SEC Tournament championship match.
A couple of weeks following that accomplishment, the Big Orange won a pair of NCAA Tournament matches for the initial time in Tennessee annals and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 20 years.
Based on the team's fast rise to prominence, Patrick was awarded both the AVCA South Region and the SEC Coach of the Year awards, as well as CVU.com National Coach of the Year honors. He was also a finalist for the AVCA National Coach of the Year award. Under his tutelage that season, four Lady Vols earned All-America honors, including juniors Knytych (third team), Morris, Andre and senior outside hitter Michelle Piantadosi (honorable mention).
In addition to the 14 All-Americans that he has coached, 34 players under Patrick's guidance have been selected to All-SEC teams in the past 13 seasons, including the 2011 SEC Player of the Year Robinson, 2011 SEC Freshman of the Year Pollmiller, 2004 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Morris, 2007 SEC Freshman of the Year Fowler and 2009 Libero of the Year Goldman.
The success of the Tennessee volleyball program is not limited to on-the-court action, however, as 47 UT volleyball student-athletes have earned a spot on an Academic All-SEC list a total of 90 times during Patrick's tenure.
Another testament to Patrick's coaching ability is the fact that he was chosen as the head coach for the USA/Bring It Promotions u20 Development Team at the European Global Games in Pula, Croatia, in the summers of both 2007 and 2008. He was joined by Lady Vols Mindy Flynn and Leah Hinkey at the 2007 competition, where the team placed third.
Patrick joined the UT program in July of 1997 after spending the previous three seasons as an assistant coach with national powerhouse Stanford. From 1994 to 1996, he helped lead the Cardinal to a combined 92-6 record and two NCAA Championships, including title-game victories over UCLA and Hawaii in 1994 and 1996, respectively. During that stint, Stanford never lost a home match, participated in a trio of NCAA Final Fours and won three consecutive Pac-10 titles.
Patrick was a major reason for Stanford's success because of his work on the recruiting front. He was instrumental in the Cardinal's freshman class being ranked second in the nation by prep volleyball magazines in 1996 and was there to help coach the country's top class in 1994. The high school volleyball player of the year was included in both recruiting hauls.
In daily activities, Patrick assisted in formulating practice plans, running drills and working on the skill development of players. During his three years at Stanford, he trained the 1994 and 1995 National Players of the Year, the 1994 and 1996 National Freshmen of the Year, 10 All-Americans and 14 All-Pac-10 selections, including Kerri Walsh, the 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics Beach Volleyball gold medal winner and current No. 1 female player in the world. He also coached five players who were chosen to the 1995 U.S. Olympic Festival Teams and two players who were picked to play for the USA National Team.
His expertise did not go unnoticed by the sport's national governing bodies. He was selected by USA Volleyball as one of five coaches to evaluate and choose players for the Junior National Team at tryouts held throughout the country. He also worked with the Director of Youth Development and Programs for USA Volleyball in assessing the players who were picked for the 1996 and 1997 Junior National Teams. Additionally, he was chosen to coach at the USA Volleyball 14-and-under Junior Development camp in San Jose, California.
As a club coach, Patrick was active with two highly-successful programs. From 1994 to 1996, he was head coach of the top 16-and-under age team for the Griffin Volleyball Club in San Jose. That team qualified for, and played in, the top division of the Northern California USVA juniors program. It also qualified as one of 48 teams for the 1996 Junior Olympic volleyball tournament in San Jose.
Prior to that, he was head coach of the 17-and-under squad and assistant coach for the 18-and-under team from 1987 to 1994 with the South Bay Volleyball Club in Manhattan Beach, Calif. From 1990 to 1994, his junior age group squad finished in the top 20 out of more than 200 teams at the Nike Festival volleyball tournament in Davis, Calif. In 1993, the 18-and-under team he helped coach won the tournament championship at Davis. From 1991 to 1994, more than 20 of his former club players earned NCAA Division I volleyball scholarships to schools in conferences such as the Pac-10, SEC, ACC, Big West and West Coast.
As a competitor, Patrick was a standout indoors and on the beach circuit. He played collegiate volleyball at Miami (Ohio) University and remained active in tournament competitions for several years. He twice earned United States Volleyball Association All-America distinction and owned a AAA beach rating.
Participating in the USVBA Men's Open National Championships from 1986 to 1993, his team finished in the top four from 1989 to 1993 and played in the 1991 championship match. Meanwhile, Patrick's coed squad played in the Coed Open National Championships from 1986 to 1993, reaching the open division title match from 1989 to 1992 and winning national crowns in 1990 and 1992. In the summer of 2006, the Tennessee coach claimed yet another national championship, this time in the 40 & Over Division.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Patrick also played football in college. He served as president of the volleyball club during his last two years at MU and received his bachelor's degree in business, with emphasis in accounting, from Miami in 1983. In addition to his coaching pursuits, Patrick worked as the vice president for a large homebuilding company for three years and served as a financial consultant in the real estate field industry before beginning his coaching duties at Stanford.
Rob and his wife Julie were married in April 2008 and currently reside in Knoxville with their daughters Kensington Grace and Abigail Lynn.
|COACH PATRICK'S YEARLY RECORDS|
|1997||15-19||.441||4th SEC East|
|1998||19-10||.655||4th SEC East|
|1999||19-13||.594||2nd SEC East|
|2000||23-10||.700||3rd SEC East, 33rd NCAA|
|2001||16-11||.593||3rd SEC East|
|2002||20-11||.645||4th SEC East|
|2003||22-9||.710||2nd SEC East|
|2004||32-3||.914||T-1st SEC East, 9th NCAA|
|2005||25-9||.735||2nd SEC East, 3rd NCAA|
|2006||19-12||.613||3rd SEC East, 33rd NCAA|
|2007||11-18||.379||4th SEC East|
|2008||22-10||.688||3rd SEC East, 33rd NCAA|
|2009||24-8||.750||T-2nd SEC East, 17th NCAA|
|2010||25-7||.781||T-2nd SEC East, 17th NCAA|
|2011||28-4||.875||1st SEC, 19th NCAA|
|2012||22-8||.733||2nd SEC East, 33rd NCAA|
|TOTALS||342-162||.679||2 SEC titles, 9 NCAA appearances|
UP CLOSE WITH ROB PATRICK
What is your coaching philosophy?
"The goal of our program is to develop young adults and teach them life skills through academic and athletic pursuits at the University of Tennessee. On the court, we strive to recruit the best volleyball athletes and then put them in positions that maximize the skills that they bring to our team."
What is your favorite memory from your time as UT Volleyball Coach?
"Beating Florida on their home court to win the 2004 SEC Championship and break their NCAA-record winning streak is my favorite memory. Winning that match in five games and then going back down to Gainesville and beating them again in the SEC Tournament Championship the next week gave me a feeling of accomplishment that all our hard work had been worth the effort. "
What do you like most about coaching?
"The relationships that are forged with the players and their families. To be able to watch an individual progressively increase their skill level as a player and know that I had an influence on their life is very satisfying to me. "
What are some things that would surprise people about you?
"Most people are surprised by the variety of things that I have done. I played football as well as men's club volleyball in college. I went on a week-long cattle drive in 2005. I have gone sky diving, scuba diving and skiing at three different Olympic venues. In 1982, I took a five-week trip around the United States, during which I visited 38 states. I have also traveled to 16 different countries in Europe including Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the Czech Republic."