UNA volleyball coach reaches winning milestone

Volleyball head coach Stephanie Radecki captured her 250th career win Oct. 24 as her Lions team swept the University of West Georgia 3-0.

The win was her 239th as head coach of the Lions.

Radecki is currently in her eleventh season as UNA head coach and, over the past eleven years, has been named the Gulf South Conference East Division Coach of the Year three times and the American Volleyball Coaches Association regional Coach of the Year twice.

Radecki led the Lions to three GSC championships, six NCAA tournament appearances, and her 2006 team was the NCAA championship runner-up.

As successful as Radecki has been over the course of her career, coaching was not always the plan she said.

“I started coaching when I was really young. All throughout high school and college I coached younger kids, but that was not necessarily my career path or the plan that I had set out for myself,” Radecki said. “It wasn’t until probably my sophomore or junior year of college that that’s when I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”

Freshman setter Abby Winkler said the amount of wins Radecki has is a testament to how much she cares for the program.

“Going into some of the most crucial games of this season I think it’s a great piece of motivation for this team,” she said. “I look forward to many more wins to come for this program.”

Sophomore defensive specialist Sarah Ann Tillery said the 250th win was a great achievement for Radecki.

“Our team was happy to be a part of it,” she said.

Radecki herself was a star volleyball player at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania being named an All-PSAC and All-Atlantic Region player twice. She was named to the Edinboro All-Time Volleyball Team in 2006 and was inducted into the Edinboro Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.

After her playing career, Radecki served as a student assistant coach at Edinboro for one year before coming to UNA as a graduate assistant coach in 1998. Following her first stint at UNA, Radecki took an assistant coaching job at Augustana College in South Dakota in 2000.

Radecki was hired as head coach at Saint Leo University in Florida and then a year later made the tough decision to leave the program.

“[Saint Leo] was my first head coaching job and I was really excited about it and I was excited that the administration there gave me the opportunity to take over the program,” Radecki said. “It was a hard decision to leave those girls and the administration there that had trusted me to take over the program.”

After a phone call from Coach Matt Peck, Radecki’s predecessor, alerting her of his resignation and other encouraging calls, Radecki decided to accept the vacant UNA head coaching position.

“It was always a position that I wanted, but I didn’t expect it to happen so fast,” she said.

The Radecki era at UNA officially began in 2004, following a NCAA D-II National Championship in 2003. The pressure was on the coach from the very start.

“It was a lot of pressure taking over for great coaches and a program that had been so successful,” Radecki said. “Because I had already been invested in the program – because I was already a part of it and had known a lot of the alumni – there was a lot of pressure to keep that tradition and keep the program nationally competitive.”

Despite that pressure, Radecki’s team shined in her first season with a 24-7 record, a GSC championship, and birth in the NCAA tournament. Since Radecki took over in 2004, her teams have only had two losing seasons and include two 30-win seasons.

With the success she has had over the years, Radecki might have the right to brag on herself, but instead she credits her 250 career wins and much of her success as a head coach to the people around her.

“Those 250 wins had so many different people involved; so many different players and so many different coaches,” Radecki said. “It represents a lot of hard work by a lot of different people, not just me. I love coaching and I love what I do and I love UNA and I just hope that we keep winning right now.”

Radecki will have many more opportunities to keep winning and adding to her milestone victory with the remaining regular season games and the Lions already receiving a berth in the GSC tournament.