Coach Leonard continues to bring success to CSUSM volleyball


Sierra Silvas, Sports Reporter

Head Women’s Volleyball Coach Andrea Leonard has brought many victories to the program since being named the first head volleyball coach in 2011.

Leonard started her volleyball career playing for Almont High School and a local club team. She then played four years on a full-ride scholarship at Northern Michigan University.

In 1992, at the end of her senior year at Northern Michigan, Leonard was offered a student assistant position at the university and realized she wanted to be a coach when offered that position.

“I was always fascinated with that side of the game because there’s so much thinking, planning and scouting. To lead a team, it’s so fun and to me it was never work to inspire people and to be part of something bigger than yourself.”

After her time as a student assistant coach at Northern Michigan, Leonard was an assistant coach at Ferris State University in 1996. She started to learn the ropes of coaching in their Division II program, putting together camps and clinics.

Soon after, Leonard then coached at the University of New Hampshire from 1998 to 2002, where she led her team to a 23-11 record, won the American East Conference Championship and made a NCAA tournament debut.

Following the University of New Hampshire, Leonard received her first head coaching position at Boston College from 2003 to 2008. This led her to work with USA Volleyball, the American Volleyball Coaches Association and the Division I Assistant Coaches Committee.

Coach Leonard has set goals for the student-athletes and the volleyball program at CSUSM.

“I want to build a culture of excellence, for this to be a destination program based on our reputation and service, to have character development and to create an environment that encourages student-athletes to develop on and off the court.”

Leonard said she enjoys the team spirit and the competitive drive that she has seen from the team this season.

“Our energy and our team chemistry is so palpable, you want to be around these girls every single day. That’s not something that just happens, it’s a culture and you can do anything with it.”

Assistant Coach Lianne Vicchio began working with Leonard in March 2016 and said her best memories of Leonard are during games and going over game strategy.

“For me, my favorite moments [with Leonard] are sitting on the bench with her during games because that’s when I’m really learning, getting feedback on what the players are doing and making changes.”

Since coming to CSUSM in 2011, Leonard has built up the volleyball program and led it to many victories.

In her first four years as head coach, the Cougars won four conference titles in the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Volleyball Conferences and multiple National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) championships, both of which they achieved consecutively from 2011-14.

One of the highlights of Leonard’s career is the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Sports Center on Sept. 1, 2016 and having her volleyball team be the first ones to hold a game in the center.

“When I first got hired we talked about that [the Sports Center] and that was six years ago,” said Leonard. “To finally get to this point ‒ the culmination of hard work between the university, the athletics department and construction ‒  it was an honor to be the first team to get that opportunity. And to win on top of that, it was definitely a highlight and a huge reward.”

Coach Leonard and her team will host UCSD Tritons at 1 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Sports Center.

The Cougar Chronicle The independent student news site of California