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Record breaking. History making. Legendary. All of these words can be used to describe the tenure of Penn State head coach Russ Rose’s career in Happy Valley. Entering his 37th year at the helm of the Nittany Lion women’s volleyball program in 2015, his name has become synonymous with the pride and tradition of the program. The leader of arguably the most successful collegiate women’s volleyball program in the country, Rose continues to pass along the confidence and character he has gained during his career.
During his tenure, Rose has collected wins at a staggering pace. Never having posted fewer than 22 wins in a season, he concluded the 2014 season as the NCAA leader in career winning percentage, having won more than 86 percent of the matches he’s coached at Penn State. Standing alone atop the all-time wins list with 1,161 career victories, he is one of only two active DI women’s volleyball head coach to reach the 1,000 career wins plateau.
Those who know Rose, know about the tremendous impact he has made in the volleyball community, not only in Pennsylvania, but across the country.
While he prefers not to focus on personal accolades, Rose’s list of accomplishments continues to grow as each year passes. In 2014 Rose guided Penn State to its seventh NCAA national championship in program history, the most of any women’s volleyball program in the country. The 2014 title marks the sixth national championship for Penn State in the last eight years and is the first back-to-back stretch of national crowns since 2009-10, when PSU rounded out its string of four straight from 2007-10.
Rose led Penn State to its first national championship in 1999, before returning to capture the title in four consecutive seasons from 2007-2010. Along the way, Rose picked up three AVCA National Coach of the Year honors and four Big Ten Coach of the Year awards, while also earning a spot in the AVCA Hall of Fame at the end of the 2007 season. Following the 2013 championship and the program’s 16th Big Ten title, Rose earned his fifth career AVCA National Coach of the Year Honor. From 2007-2010, Rose guided the Nittany Lions on their unprecedented and historic run of 109 victories, which included back-to-back 38-0 seasons in 2008 and 2009.
His student-athletes have earned 72 First Team All-Big Ten honors in 23 years in the conference. He’s produced at least one All-American in 35 of his 36 years at Penn State, mentoring 36 different Nittany Lions to a total of 84 All-America honors, including four who went on to win the AVCA National Player of the Year award. Most recently, senior Micha Hancock joined the elite group as the 2014 AVCA DI National Player of the Year. Additionally, five of the 36 honorees received All-American honors consecutively across all four years, including 2013 senior Deja McClendon, who is the most recent addition to the list.
Several of Rose’s athletes have excelled off the court, garnering 156 Academic All-Big Ten accolades as well 16 Academic All-America honors. Four of his 11 different Academic All-American Nittany Lions were also selected for the prestigious Academic All-America of the Year award.
Many of his former student-athletes are currently still in the game, including 2012 Olympic silver medalists Christa Harmotto and Megan Hodge. Alisha Glass and Nicole Fawcett also served as alternates on the 2012 U.S.A. women’s national team. Several Nittany Lion alums are also head coaches and assistants at various intercollegiate volleyball teams across the country. Throughout his career, Rose has been called on to share his expertise with coaches and players who represent the United States in International competition. He’s also an active clinician, traveling around both the United States and other parts of the world to share his vast knowledge of the game.
A 1975 graduate of the George Williams College, Rose was a member of the school’s 1974 NAIA national championship team and captain of the 1975 squad. Upon graduation, he remained at George Williams as a part-time coach, helping the women’s team to a pair of state titles and a sixth-place finish at the national level. In 1978, he earned his master’s degree from the University of Nebraska, while also serving as a defensive coach for the women’s team. While writing his thesis on volleyball statistics, he led the second team to a two-year varsity mark of 52-5.
A 2013 Penn State Honorary Alumni honoree, Rose married Lori Barberich, a former three-time All-American at Penn State in 1986. The two are the parents of four sons, Jonathan, Michael, Christopher and Nicholas.