Tom Tait

Brevard College Professor Emeritus G. Thomas (Tom) Tait was honored as an All-Time Great Coach in the Pioneer Division by USA Volleyball on May 24, 2007.

Tait was a member of Brevard College’s faculty from 1996 through 2006.  During his tenure, he served as the Otilly Welge Seese Distinguished Service Professor of Exercise Science and Coaching and was the chair of the Division of Exercise Science and Wilderness Leadership.

Tait’s distinguished volleyball coaching career began long before his arrival in Brevard.  Recognized as the founding father of both the Penn State men’s and women’s volleyball programs, Tait began coaching the Penn State University women's volleyball club in 1974.  By 1976, he had convinced the Penn State administration to add both men's and women's volleyball as varsity sports.  He then guided the women’s squad from 1976-78 and compiled a 51-43-4 record before relinquishing those duties to focus on the men’s volleyball program.

He turned one of the country’s top men’s club teams into a successful NCAA Division I program after

winning the USA Volleyball National Collegiate Championship in 1976.  Penn State reached the NCAA national semifinals five times and won 355 of 432 matches (355-88-9) between 1977 and 1988.  The Nittany Lions placed second nationally in 1982 after defeating University of Southern California in the NCAA semifinals and losing to national champion UCLA in the finals.  Tait coached 20 All-Americans while guiding the Penn State men’s volleyball team. In 1986 he was named Volleyball Monthly Magazine’s National Coach of the Year.

In an interview for Penn State Russ Rose, the coach who took over as head coach of Penn State’s women’s team in 1979 said of Tait, “This is a great recognition for Tom’s contributions to volleyball and coaching in general.  He is a great leader in both of those areas and this award is a reflection of the impact he has made within the game.  We wouldn’t be where we are today without him.”

Penn State’s current men’s head coach Mark Pavlik also had praises for Tait’s impact Nittany Lion Volleyball.  “Penn State men’s volleyball would not be where it is today without the drive, tenacity and brilliant teaching of Coach Tait,” said Pavlik.  “Every one of us who has been coached or mentored by him has benefited in so many more ways than just volleyball.  USA Volleyball’s honor of All-Time Great Coach is very fitting and well-deserved, and the Nittany Lion volleyball nation is standing and applauding our founding leader.”

Outside of collegiate coaching, Tait served as head coach of the U.S. Sports Festival in 1978, 1985 and 1986.  He was an assistant coach on the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team in 1982 for the Pacific Rim Championships and FIVB World Junior Championships.  Tait guided Team USA in the 1983 World University Games and later that year served as an assistant coach on the Pan American Games team.

Tait is a charter member of the USA Volleyball Coaching Accreditation Program (CAP) Cadre of Instructors.  Since 1988, he has conducted numerous Level I, II and III courses throughout the United States.  Tait also has served as the Physiology Section Review Editor for the International Journal of Volleyball Research and Instructor for the International VB Federation Coaching courses.

Among his individual honors include his selection as a Leader in Volleyball by USA Volleyball in 1993.  He became an inaugural inductee into the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s (AVCA) Hall of Fame in 2003.