As promised in last week's Hoofprints article, this week's featured Southwest Minnesota State University athletic staff member is head volleyball coach, Terry Culhane, who is in his sixth season at the helm of the Mustang volleyball program. Coach Culhane has compiled a 148-48 record holding the top spot in SMSU history for winning percentage and is the 14th winningest individual among active coaches in NCAA Division II.
During Culhane's tenure, the Mustangs have made five-straight NCAA tournament appearances, placed second four times and third once in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference standings, played in two NSIC tournament championship matches and appeared in the NCAA II national poll for the first time in school history.
In just five seasons as head coach, Culhane has twice been named NSIC Coach of the Year, coached SMSU's first ever NCAA II All-America players, had six first team all-region selections, two AVCA Region Freshmen of the Year, one NSIC Player of the Year, one NSIC Newcomer of the Year and 12 first team all-conference honorees.
Culhane is a 1978 graduate of SMSU with a degree in elementary education, physical education and health. While at SMSU, he spent time on both the Mustang baseball and basketball squads. He earned his master's degree from SMSU in 2000 in educational leadership.
Terry and his wife Sandy live in Marshall and have two daughters, Ashley and Allison.
I talked with Coach Culhane Wednesday afternoon after our Mustang Booster Club luncheon. Here is how the conversation went:
HOOFPRINTS TRIVIA QUESTION
What Mustang women's basketball player holds the career record for games played at SMSU?
The first person to e-mail me at MustangHoofPrints@SMSU.edu with the correct answer to this question will receive a SMSU Ag Bowl t-shirt. The winner will be announced on The Saturday Morning Mustang Show between 9-10 a.m. on 1400AM each week.
Question: What are some of the similarities and differences between coaching high school and collegiate volleyball?
Coach Culhane said, "The game has not changed from high school to college. In order to be successful you need to pass and serve the ball well." Coach Culhane always talks about keeping the ball "in system" which means passing the ball accurately to the setter giving the setter a good ball to set to our hitters. Coach Culhane also talked about the pace of the game, "The pace of the game is much different from high school to college volleyball. In high school, you had spurts within the game that were high paced. The level of volleyball in the NSIC and Central Region is all high paced on both offense and defense. We compete in a conference and region that has some of the best Division II volleyball in the nation.
Coach Culhane also identified that in college all six players on the court are good players. Players in college are much taller than the average players on a high school team. Coach Culhane explained the difference between being a high school hitter and college hitter. "Good high school hitters can normally blast through blocks when hitting. In college, good hitters need to develop shots and learn to hit off or around blocks," he said.
Question: What is different about SMSU (SSU) Athletics from when you were a student-athlete in the mid 1970's to now as a head coach?
Coach Culhane said, "The whole athletic level of play is higher within the individual sports. Student-athletes have scholarship opportunities these days that were not available when I went to school. I just think the overall organization of the athletics department is more complex."
Question: What are some of your most memorable moments at SMSU as a student-athlete or coach?
Coach Culhane thought about this question a while and then talked about the overall impact he and his coaches can have on a student-athlete's growth, "In my position, I have the ability to educate young people and help them grow as a person, student and player. I enjoy the ability to teach students both on and off the court."
Coach Culhane also mentioned the positive impact competing in five consecutive NCAA Regionals has had on the Mustang Volleyball program and the lives of his student-athletes and coaches.
Coach Culhane continued to talk about the importance of this regional and national recognition when it comes to recruiting quality student-athletes, "The success we have experienced in volleyball at Southwest has helped us with recruiting student-athletes that will allow us to continue to be successful in the NSIC, the Central Region and nationally. With each successful year, the coaching staff and players have continued to elevate the level of expectation for Mustang Volleyball."
Question: What is something that not many people know about Terry Culhane?
Coach Culhane thought of his long time assistant coach, Paul Soupir, "Some people may not know that I have coached with Paul for 22 (this took a little calculation) out of my 30 years coaching volleyball and basketball at Milroy, Tracy-Milroy and SMSU."
I always enjoy talking with our coaches. I had the pleasure of first meeting Coach Culhane in 1989, when he and Paul came down to one of Mary Jo's (my wife) games at Kansas State. Thank you, Coach Culhane, for sitting down and talking with me his week.
Good luck to all of our Mustang Teams this weekend. Go Mustangs!
Last week, Dave Drown provided the correct answer to the Mustang Hoofprints Trivia Question: What Mustang Men's Basketball player holds the career record for scoring average while at SMSU? The answer was Sam Leggett (1974-76) averaged 25.6 points over his 48 games as a Mustang. On a side note, Marshall community member, Gary Hagemeyer who also played in 48 games for the Mustangs averaged 14.1 points per game ranking him 10th in career average scoring for SMSU.
Thank you to all who submitted answers to last week's trivia question.