Hebert inducted into AVCA Hall of Fame

Mark Heise

Minnesota volleyball coach Mike Hebert seems to be piling on the accomplishments this year.

Just one week after notching his program-leading 264th victory, Hebert received even more good news – his election into the America Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

“To be inducted into any sort of Hall of Fame is meaningful because it’s kind of a lifetime achievement,” he said. “Anything coming from your peers means a lot more than any of the other awards.”

Hebert has coached at all levels from club to Olympic and served as the president of the association. His accomplishments include five Big Ten Coach of the Year awards and a pair of Coach of the Year awards from outside sources.

But those achievements didn’t happen overnight. A volleyball coach for more than 30 years, Hebert came a long way to get into his current

position.

Hebert was introduced to volleyball in college at the University of California-Santa Barbara and played on several men’s teams. He began coaching at the University of Pittsburgh in 1976, accepting a part-time job for extra money.

“I had two small children at the time, and the job meant extra income,” Hebert said. “I never thought about coaching before, so I did it also because I thought I might enjoy it.”

He continued with Pittsburgh for four years, turning his part-time job into a full-time job in his final season. From there, Hebert headed to the University of New Mexico for three years before moving on to the University of Illinois for 13 seasons. He finally ended up in Minnesota, where he has coached for 10 seasons.

Success has followed Hebert wherever he has gone, as his teams have missed the NCAA Tournament only three times in his 30-year career.

He had an impressive run at Illinois, where he became the winningest coach in Illini history with 323 wins. He also won the conference title four times while at Illinois and reached the national semifinals twice in 1987 and 1988.

That type of success would be enough to keep many coaches around, but instead Hebert decided to try Minnesota for a while.

“A lot of things were appealing about coming to Minnesota,” he said. “A good part of the decision was personal, but that wasn’t the only reason. There was plenty of potential here and a great fan base. It just looked like a good option.”

Minnesota found itself to be a good option as well, as it picked up a coach who has led the Gophers to a pair of Final Four appearances, including one national championship match.

Senior outside hitter Kelly Bowman said she couldn’t be happier for Hebert’s upcoming induction, especially with what he’s done for the Gophers.

“I think he really deserves this,” she said. “He’s such a great coach and has so much knowledge, he had it coming.”

Freshman defensive specialist Christine Tan expressed her enjoyment in playing under Hebert.

“It’s an honor to play for someone like him,” she said. “I learn new things every day, and it’s great to play for someone who supports his players and has their well-being in mind.”

Nelson named Player of the Week
Senior middle blocker Meredith Nelson averaged four kills per game and posted a career-high 24 kills against Michigan State last Sunday, earning Big Ten Volleyball Co-Player of the Week honors. Nelson became the first Minnesota player to receive the award since Kelly Bowman did on Oct. 25, 2004.