Brenda Williams faced a daunting task when she became the head coach of the Olivet Nazarene University volleyball program in 1996. After all, the Tigers had only a handful of wins the previous two seasons and would be hosting the NAIA National Championships the following year. No stranger to reclamation projects, Williams guided the Tigers to an astounding 25 wins in just her first season. This dramatic turnaround ushered in a new era of ONU volleyball.
Completing her 13th season at the helm of ONU in 2008, Williams has established an impressive legacy, amassing 678 career wins, which places her fifth among active NAIA coaches. The 2008 season may have been one of Williams finest as the Tigers secured their place among the NAIA's elite with their third consecutive trip to the NAIA National Championships. The team nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the national tournament in a five-game thriller against No. 3 Concordia University (Calif.), a team that eventually finished as the NAIA National Runner-Up. With often five freshmen and sophomores on the court, ONU faced 17 ranked opponents, won its seventh Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Championship since 2000 and fourth straight CCAC Tournament Championship.
Overall, Williams has led the Tigers to seven NAIA National Tournament appearances, seven CCAC Regular Season Championships and back-to-back NCCAA National Championships. Williams has guided Olivet to a 388-221 overall record and a 90-15 league mark. The program has also rattled off ten-straight winning seasons and has become one of the most respected and talented programs in the NAIA. With six starters returning from a team that reached the NAIA National Championships, excitement builds for the 2009 campaign.
Under Williams' direction, Olivet has produced 19 NAIA All-Americans, five CCAC Players of the Year, five CCAC Freshmen of the Year, three NAIA Region VII Players of the Year, 28 NAIA All-Region VII selections, two NCCAA Players of the Year and 15 NCCAA All-Americans. The Tigers have also combined for 61 All-CCAC awards and 26 NAIA All-America Scholar-Athlete certificates. Julie Leman, the Tigers three-time All-American setter who played from 2000 to 2003, holds the NAIA and collegiate record for career assists with 7,442. The team's effort in the classroom has been just as impressive, winning six-straight AVCA Team Academic Awards. The 2007 squad posted the strongest academic year in the history of the program with a cumulative 3.65 GPA, second-highest among all NAIA volleyball schools.
Williams' accomplishments have not gone unnoticed as she was recognized as the 2008 AVCA NAIA Mideast Region Coach of the Year. She has been named the CCAC Coach of the Year on seven occasions and the NAIA Region VII Coach of the Year three times. While the Tigers were competing in the NCCAA, Williams was named the National Coach of the Year in both 2001 and 2002. She was also inducted into the CAC Hall of Fame in 2005.
Often referred to as a visionary around the volleyball community, Williams has been instrumental in helping to expand the NAIA's visibility through her involvement with the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) and USA Volleyball, serving on the board of directors. In 2005, she spearheaded the AVCA-NAIA Head Coaches Committee dedicated to developing the image of NAIA volleyball, while also enhancing professionalism within the sport. Williams oversees NAIA volleyball operations as the president of the NAIA Volleyball Coaches Association and the CCAC Volleyball chairwoman.
Bio courtesy of Olivet Nazarene University's Athletic Web site
Played in College: University of Alabama in Birmingham (1973-1974)
University of Alabama (1975-1976)
Coaching Position #1: Volunteer Assistant--Palm Beach Junior College (1977)
Coaching Position #2: Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer/Assistant Coach--Univ. of Alabama Birmingham (1978-1979)
Coaching Position #3: Head Coach--Univ. of Alabama Birmingham (1980-1992)
Coaching Position #4: Club Director & Coach--Divers Volleyball Club (1993-1997)
Volunteer Assistant--Kankakee Community College (1993 &1995)
Assistant Coach--Bradley Bourbannais Community High School (1994-1995)
Coaching Position #5: Head Volleyball Coach--Olivet Nazarene University (1997-present)
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