June 9, 2009

Red Teams Appoint New Coaches

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Sarah Bernson, Wendy Schaenen ’79 Head Coach of Volleyball

In its past five seasons, the volleyball squad has seen triumph and disappointment, with its impressive three-year Ivy title run, in 2004, 2005 and 2006, along with back-to-back NCAA appearances (in 2005 and 2006), followed by the next two seasons, which emphasized rebuilding after the loss of a core of All-Ivy seniors. Through it all, the team relied on the leadership of head coach Deitre Collins-Parker as well as vital assistant coach Sarah Bernson. On June 3rd, Director of Athletics Andy Noel recognized Bernson’s hard work and dedication by promoting her the new Wendy Schaenen ’79 head coach, filling the position vacated at the end of this season after Collins-Parker accepted the head coaching position at Sand Diego State.

During her five years as an assistant coach, Bernson was in charge of recruiting and also worked specifically with the Red’s outside hitters, a group that included Cornell’s all-time kills leader and first volleyball All-American in school history, Elizabeth Bishop ’07.

In addition to her experience with the Red, Bernson spent three years as an assistant coach at Cal-State Monterey Bay in California. There, she helped the Otters set a new school record for most wins in a season, which earned the team a playoff bid and its first ever postseason victory. With Bernson’s help, Otters were selected to the league’s all-conference team in 2003, another first for the CSMB program.

While at CSMB, Bernson also started and led the Monterey Volleyball Club, a youth-development program focusing on middle and high school students, and worked for the CSMB athletic department as marketing and promotional coordinator.

In 1999, Bernson earned a bachelor’s dual degree in English and art from St. Mary’s College in California. Bernson served played on the right side on the St. Mary’s volleyball team until a career-ending injury in 1998, but remained active as captain of the team as a senior. In high school, Bernson was an all-state athlete for St. Pius X in Albuquerque.

With the fall season approaching, Bernson has quickly made the transition to head coach and is currently in Atlanta, attending the NCAA Women’s Coaching Academy. The program, which finishes up tomorrow, is designed to provide skills and productivity training, and focuses on such aspects of the job as player development, retention and mentoring.

Jeremy Spates, Wrestling Assistant Coach

Sprinkled liberally throughout Division I wrestling are coaches who, at some point in time, have been instructed or mentored by Red head coach Rob Koll. On June 3rd, Jeremy Spates, one of these mini-protégés will return to the Hill to serve as the newest addition to Cornell’s assistant coaching staff. Spates has worked for the past five seasons as an assistant at Oklahoma.

At Cornell, Spates, a former 149-pound wrestler, will assist Koll in all areas of coaching, including recruitment and on-the-mat instruction. He will work with all weight classes, but will specialize in the middle to lower weight classes.

Koll said that he is very glad to be able to have Spates on staff for the upcoming season, a process that was several years in the making.

“I have known Jeremy for a very long time, and I helped him with his technique when he was in junior high,” Koll said in an email press release. “We tried to get Jeremy to join our staff a few years ago, but the timing was not right. We are very glad to have him back in New York. Jeremy will bring a unique perspective to our staff, having wrestled and coached in the Big 12.”

While at Oklahoma, Spates helped lead the Sooner to a 16-4 dual record this past season, its best in the last five. Oklahoma wrestles earned two Big 12 championships and eight qualified for the NCAA tournament. Oklahoma has earned two top-three team finishes at the NCAAs, as well as a 2004 national champion at 141 pounds.

Spates wrestled for Missouri as an undergraduate, finishing with a 106-38 overall record that included three NCAA appearances, culminating in a fifth place as a senior that helped him earn All-American honors. Spates also served as captain of his squad for three seasons, the first ever Tiger to do so. In high school Spates was All-American his senior year, and a three-time junior All-American.

Despite his Midwestern roots, Cornell coaching runs in Spates’ blood. His father, Jack Spates coached the Red from1099-93, finishing with a 74—14-1 overall record, five Ivy League titles and back-to-back EIWA championship titles. Spates Sr. is currently in his 16th season as the highly decorated head coach of Oklahoma.