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Having been involved in all aspects of the Penn State men's volleyball program as a player, assistant coach and head coach, 2008 AVCA National Coach of the Year Mark Pavlik now enters his 23rd year at the helm of the Nittany Lion men's volleyball team in Happy Valley.
Capturing the 2008 NCAA National Championship and helping to build the Nittany Lions into one of the premier men's volleyball powers in the nation, Pavlik has compiled a career record of 542-173, winning 76 percent of his matches.
Within the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA), Pavlik's teams have been even more dominating, racking up 223 wins and only suffering seven league losses in 20 years. A 1982 graduate of Penn State and the 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2014 EIVA Coach of the Year, Pavlik has experienced Penn State from all perspectives.
As a player, he was a setter under legendary coach Tom Tait. For five years prior to his promotion, Pavlik served as Coach Tom Peterson's top assistant. During that time, the Nittany Lions compiled a 111-39 record and made four NCAA Tournament appearances, highlighted by the 1994 national title.
Pavlik's experience and expertise has not gone unnoticed or unrecognized by those in the volleyball community.
"Mark has developed not only one of the best programs in the East, but one of the most outstanding programs in the nation," said USA Volleyball CEO and former longtime USA Men's Volleyball Head Coach Doug Beal.
"His teams compete with class at the highest levels, year-in and year-out. Mark brings an unusual passion and thoughtfulness, along with a special rapport with his team every year. USA Volleyball is fortunate to have coaches like Mark coaching at the collegiate level, working with athletes and growing the sport."
Drawing from his experiences, Pavlik has developed a unique coaching philosophy that stresses hard work in practice, a relaxed approach to competition, and a determination to develop the well-rounded person and student-athlete.
"I feel that the coach's role is extremely critical in training and creating the environment in which the team can improve," Pavlik said.
"I think I am more concerned about practices than I am about matches. I have the philosophy that the team is going to win or lose the match. I tend to be more demanding in practice where the work gets done. During the matches, I like to help the team use what they have been trained to use."
As Pavlik explained, lending an ear goes a long way in coaching.
"I think the best coaches are the most observant," Pavlik said. "They are good in convincing young people what it takes to succeed in life, not just on the court. "I do not think about coaching as being the boss. Rather, I am here to see how all the parts fit together. I am in the middle of this storm, and that is where the calm is supposed to be."
Pavlik has guided some of the nation's greatest players during his tenure. In 1997, he coached Ivan Contreras to the AVCA Player of the Year honor and in 2008 Matt Anderson earned the same award, the only times an Eastern player has earned the prestigious honor.
He has coached 21 different players (Ivan Contreras, Jason Kepner, Kevin Hourican, Ed Josefoski, Carlos Ortiz, José Quiñones, Zeljko Koljesar, Zach Slenker, Carlos Guerra, Ricky Mattei, Keith Kowal, Nate Meerstein, Matt Proper, Matt Anderson, Luke Murray, Max Holt, Max Lipsitz, Will Price, Dennis Del Valle, Joe Sunder and Edgardo Goas) to 41 All-America awards.
At least three of his players have earned first team All-East/All-EIVA accolades each season.
In the past 26 years, Pavlik has gained considerable experience coaching at the international, national, collegiate and high school levels.
He was a member of the AVCA Board of Directors as well as chairman of the AVCA All-America committee. Pavlik was also named EIVA Coach of the Year from 1995-97 and served as the Head of Delegation for the defending Olympic Champion USA men's volleyball team at the America's Cup in Brazil in September, 2008.
During the summer of 1995, Pavlik was a member of the coaching staff of the World University Games team that competed in Japan and finished eighth out of 30 teams. Former Nittany Lion captains Ed Josefoski and Kevin Hourican were team members. Pavlik coached the U.S. National Team at the NORCECA competition in Edmonton, Alberta, in the fall of 1995. The USA took home the silver, losing to Cuba in the final.
22 years ago, Pavlik was a member of the U.S. staff at the World University Games in Buffalo, N.Y. In the summer of 1994, he directed the East team to a silver medal at the U.S. Olympic Festival.
Pavlik again joined the World University Games staff in the summer of 2001 when he served as the U.S. Head of Delegation for the Games, which were held in Beijing, China. Pavlik and the U.S. team brought home the gold, the first-ever gold medal won by the men's World University Games team, and the first men's gold medal at any level since the 1988 Olympic Games gold. Current Lion assistant coach Colin McMillan was a player on that WUG team.
A native of Derry, Pa., Pavlik served as an assistant to Derry High School coach Rich Schall from 1985-88. Derry won two state titles (1986, `88) and finished second in 1987 and third in 1985. As head coach of a 17-and-under junior boy's team in the York, Pa., area (1985-86), he led the team to a fourth-place finish at the national tournament.
From 1986-88, Pavlik worked with the South-Central Pennsylvania Girls Volleyball Association. He also served as an assistant coach for the women's teams at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Juniata College.
Pavlik resides in Cornpropst Mills, Pa., with his wife, the former Heather Blough, and their son Jackson, who was born on Dec. 23, 2001. Heather, a three-time AVCA First Team All-American setter for Juniata College, is now the head coach for the Eagles women's volleyball team that won the Division III National championship in 2004 and 2006 under head coach Larry Bock.