Story Courtesy of Allegheny Sports Information Department
Kelly Barzak has been named the new Allegheny College women's volleyball coach, as announced by the school's director of athletics and recreation Portia Hoeg.
Barzak comes to Allegheny after spending the past three seasons in the same position at her alma mater of Thiel College, and replaces Bridget Sheehan, who retired in March after a 30-year career with the Gators.
"I'm incredibly excited to have received this opportunity to further my coaching career," Barzak stated. "Coach Sheehan put in a lot of time and dedication into the program during her career as head coach, and I'm really looking forward to building upon the tradition that she created here."
"Kelly was a tremendous student and two-sport athlete at Thiel," said Hoeg. "She is a strong recruiter with many high school and club volleyball connections in the area, and I am confident in her ability to lead our program to the top of the North Coast Athletic Conference while providing a quality student-athlete experience for our Gators."
A native of Warren, Ohio, Barzak was named head coach at Thiel prior to the 2014 season. Inheriting a team that won just three matches in the season prior to her arrival, she led the Tomcats to 14 wins in her first year, including a 10-8 mark in Presidents' Athletic Conference play and a trip to the conference semifinals. In all, Barzak coached five players who earned All-PAC honors during her tenure at Thiel, while she was responsible for a number of administrative duties. She successfully coordinated fundraising efforts that raised over $25,000 for her team's trip to Costa Rica in 2016, while her teams also thrived academically, posting a cumulative GPA of 3.50 as she oversaw a number of academic initiatives, including tutoring sessions, classroom checks, and regular academic meetings. A successful recruiter, Barzak brought in 21 volleyball student-athletes during her three-year tenure, as she attended and worked a multitude of clinics, camps, and showcases across the area.
In addition to her position as head women's volleyball coach, Barzak served as an assistant coach for the Tomcat men's volleyball team from August 2014-May 2016, while she was Thiel's game contract manager and athletic facility coordinator, overseeing the scheduling all events in the school's gymnasium. She also was a member of Thiel's faculty in the physical education department, teaching classes in archery, volleyball, and basketball.
Barzak began her collegiate coaching career at Muskingum University in August 2013 as a graduate assistant. She assisted in all aspects of the program, including practice planning, player development, in-game strategy, and recruiting.
Prior to her time at Muskingum, Barzak served as head coach for Club Gold South in New Concord, Ohio in 2013, while she worked Volleyball Spike Fest in July 2013, and numerous basketball and volleyball camps throughout her undergraduate years.
A 2013 Thiel graduate, Barzak is one of the most accomplished two-sport athletes in Tomcat athletic history, as she was a four-time All-PAC selection in both volleyball and basketball. In volleyball, the middle hitter graduated as Thiel's all-time leader in both career kills (1,292) and hitting percentage (.352), and was named CoSIDA Academic All-America following her senior season.
On the basketball court, Barzak is Thiel's all-time career leader with 288 blocked shots, while she ranks third in team history with 1,401 career points, and fifth with 773 career rebounds. As she did with volleyball, she also earned CoSIDA Academic All-District and All-America honors following her senior basketball campaign.
Barzak, who served as president of Thiel's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as a senior, earned a B.A. in Elementary Education in 2013, graduating Summa Cum Laude and as a member of the Alpha Chi and Les Lauriers Honor Societies. She then went on to earn a Master of Arts in Education from Muskingum in May 2016, finishing with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
"The Allegheny volleyball team is known for holding itself to high standards both on and off the court," said Barzak. "I'm really eager to begin to work with such a high-quality program and high-quality student-athletes, as well as looking forward to coaching in the NCAC, which is one of the more competitive conferences in Division III."
"Coach Barzak is a real up-and-comer," said Hoeg, "and I am sure she will build upon the foundation that Coach Sheehan established over the past 30 years. I am beyond excited to see the Gator volleyball program flourish under her leadership."