Head Coach, University of Connecticut
NCAA Division I
Holly Strauss-O'Brien completed her fourth season as head volleyball coach at the University of Connecticut with a 21-11 record, the first 20-win season for the young coach.
She came to Connecticut after coaching the Triangle Volleyball Club 17s in Durham, N.C., a team she led to a regional championship. She then began a rapid rise at UConn, starting as a graduate assistant in 2003, then becoming the first full-time assistant coach in 2004. She became interim head coach in the middle of that same season, before being named as full-time head coach in 2005.
While her love for the game is what first drew her into coaching, she also has other reasons for making it her career.
"Besides loving the game of volleyball, I really enjoy the opportunity to influence and impact the lives of young, aspiring women every day," she said. "(I want to be able to) serve as a female role model, mentor and teacher in order to impact the lives of the athletes I am privileged to work with."
Education is also important to the young coach. Since taking over the program, four student-athletes have made the dean's list, while eight have earned All-Academic BIG EAST honors, and Director of Athletics Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll status.
"As a young coach, Holly is laying down the stepping stones to building upon a great program that has so much potential and young, new ideas to success," said her assistant, Timothy O'Brien, who nominated her for the award.