Simon Fraser University's senior director of athletics and recreation Milton Richards announced on Wednesdy the hiring of Gina Schmidt as the department's new volleyball coach.
Schmidt, a native of Beaverlodge, Alta., comes to SFU after five years as the top assistant coach for the NCAA Division I University of Montana Grizzlies. She was also the Grizzlies recruiting coordinator.
"Gina has played and coached professionally in Europe, the U.S.A. and is a former member of the Canadian national women's volleyball team," said Richards in a Clan press release. "She is the right person to lead our program to new heights as we represent Canada as the only international institution in the world's largest amateur athletic association, the National Collegiate Athletic Association."
"I'm anxious to be a part of a unique and exciting situation, being a Canadian and coaching at Canada's only NCAA school," said Schmidt. "I think they were looking to hire a Canadian, if possible, and I have a lot of experience coaching and playing in Canada, in addition to my years in the NCAA at Oregon State as a player and now Montana as a coach."
In her five years at Montana, she helped the Grizzlies to a 45-35 record in league games and three Big Sky Conference tournament appearances.
"She told me about the opening in December and when she told me the qualifications I thought she was perfect for it," said Grizzlies Head Coach Jerry Wagner. "It's bittersweet. We're losing a very loyal and trusted colleague and coach. She's meticulous and looks at every area. Her program will be very structured and she'll create a good atmosphere for learning."
Prior to joining the Grizzlies, Schmidt played professionally in Europe for six years in top divisions in France, Germany, Holland Switzerland and Finland. Schmidt played both as a hitter and a setter during her professional career.
She has also represented Canada, spending nine years with the Canadian national program, four of which were on the senior team.
Over the years, she has also spent time as a guest coach for the Canadian national program.
"I don't think you could find a better fit," said Canadian national women's team head coach Arnd Ludwig. "She has great interaction on the court with the players and also has a great relationship with other coaches. She's very thoughtful and she thinks a lot about the game."
In university, Schmidt played for the Div. I Oregon State Beavers, where she was a four year letter winner.
As a junior, she was an all-star in the Pac-10 and received honourable mention as a senior.
She currently ranks fifth in Oregon State history in career kills with 1,366 and seventh in career digs with 1,142.
"I think the top Division II programs are trying to emulate a Division I experience and that's what we're going to strive to do. Expectations will be high and we want to create a culture that is focused on winning championships. I think we can build a program that the SFU community and the surrounding area can be proud of," continued Schmidt.
She will inherit an SFU team that went 4-22 in 2012. Schmidt will officially start at SFU on March 1.
"Job number one will be to get in the gym with the current team and find out where we are at. At that point, I'll know what we need to focus on in training but also where we need to spend our time in recruiting," said Schmidt.