Hebert offers wins with guidance

The Gophers continue to prove to be among the top teams in the nation.

Hebert offers wins with guidance

Aleutian Calabay

Gophers head volleyball coach Mike Hebert has a Ph.D, ParkinsonâÄôs disease and served in the Peace Corps, but he lets what some would call life-defining characteristics serve as background noise in his 65-year-old life. He has more than 900 career coaching victories, including 345 in his 13-plus years at Minnesota in which he has led the Gophers to 12 NCAA Tournament berths. And thatâÄôs just scratching the surface. Numbers are fantastic and are sure to accumulate during a 33-year career. Hebert coached for 13 seasons at Illinois before coming to Minnesota. He also had stints with Pittsburgh and New Mexico. While he has built one of the greatest college volleyball coaching résumés of all time, Hebert, who has a Ph.D in sociology, does not feel that his best accomplishments are in his numbers but rather the positive influences he has on his playersâÄô lives. âÄúAt a major university like this, there are a lot of choices to make,âÄù Hebert said. âÄúI try to get them to see into their future, so that they can pick the right classes, pick the right major and have the right academic experiences to do what they want to do.âÄù Hebert also brings an unquestionable work ethic into his time with the players. From continuing to push previous players to better themselves, to taking the time after practice to pull them individually aside and make sure they are doing all right, the coachâÄôs work is never done. âÄúMike was one of the main reasons I picked the U of M,âÄù freshman Katherine Harms said. âÄúIt was just his whole coaching philosophy; how he coaches and how he interacts with the players. I just loved his whole connection that he has with every single player.âÄù HebertâÄôs relation to his players also brings a strong emphasis on education. He has had 75 players selected for the Big Ten All-Academic team while at Minnesota, averaging more than five per season. The importance stressed on education also translates to emphasis of thinking on the court. âÄúMike is a very mental coach,âÄù senior Christine Tan said. âÄúHeâÄôs very into the psychological part of the game. He emphasizes your mental thought processes throughout the game and how your emotions and playing are affecting both you and your teammates.âÄù Although numbers may not be the most important thing, some are just too important to be ignored, as his current total of 857 Division I wins ranks him fourth amongst all active coaches. The wins, along with numerous other accomplishments, received full recognition on Dec. 13, 200 7 marked by an induction to the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. âÄúI donâÄôt suppose IâÄôll feel the full weight of it until after I retire and look back. I think that in any profession to be recognized by your peers is about as good as it gets. ItâÄôs very flattering.âÄù Hebert has had a multitude of obstacles throughout his storied career, including an ongoing battle with ParkinsonâÄôs disease. However, Hebert has not used the neurological condition as an excuse for anything, nor has he allowed it to slow him down, which at age 65 is an occurrence for most people. âÄúIâÄôm not as mobile on the sidelines as I used to be, but thatâÄôs probably a good thing. I used to get up and rant and rave a lot more than I do now. There really isnâÄôt a lot of effect on my coaching; there are just a few little nuances here and there.âÄù Without the chronic illness being a factor and with so many achievements under his belt, the question then becomes, how much longer will Hebert continue coaching? âÄúI donâÄôt know, IâÄôm really enjoying coaching this team,âÄù Hebert said. âÄúThis group is great to work with. We have good talent, my coaching staff is as good as it gets and the support from the administration is as good as it gets. This is a great thing for me to be doing right now.âÄù One thing is certain, Minnesota and his players are hoping he continues to stick around long into the future. âÄúCoach Hebert is one of the most personable coaches you will ever meet,âÄù senior Megan Wilson said . Just being able to talk to him and relate to him and his character and how funny he is, it makes it feel like volleyball isnâÄôt his job. ItâÄôs a family that we come to everyday.âÄù