New coach hoping to bring change to UA

Tom Hanna becomes the 10th coach of the Akron volleyball team.

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Tom Hanna becomes the 10th coach of the Akron volleyball team.

By Forrest Dukes , Sports Editor

With the start of a new semester, The University of Akron has finished their search for a new volleyball coach with the hire of Tom Hanna.

Hanna has spent the last few weeks getting acquainted with the campus, team, and surroundings of the Akron area. “I’m excited for the opportunity to become a Zip and lead the volleyball program at The University of Akron,” Hanna said. “My sincere thanks to Tom Wistrcill and Mary Lu Gribshaw [Akron’s Athletic Director and Akron’s Senior Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator] for their confidence in having me lead the Zips moving forward. It’s great to return to the Mid-American Conference and the high level of volleyball that’s played night in and night out. I look forward to getting started and making this program the best it can be athletically and academically,” Hanna said to the media.

Coach Hanna is joining the Akron team after nine years with the Marist College where he had an overall record of 139-134 and an 89-73 record in their conference, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC.) Before that he spent time as an assistant for Rutgers-Newark, Bowling Green Ferris State and a few other colleges across the United States. During his time at Marist, Hanna was honored twice as the MAAC Coach of the Year and has had countless players selected as conference All-Americans and honored with academic honors, both individually and as a team, throughout his years with the Red Foxes.

Hanna turned the Red Foxes around in a relatively short time of four years where he and his team finished the season fourth in the MAAC. They went into the conference tournament ready to make a run for the first time in the program’s history in 2009. They finished as runner ups and were able to defeat the best team in their conference to reach the championship match. Hanna and his team has spent the last two years being in the top spot of the MAAC with an outstanding record of 21-9 in 2013 and 25-6 in 2014.

Looking forward, Hanna wants to bring his new team into a competitive spot in the MAC where they can compete with the best and make a run for the trophy. “Our long and short term goals are pretty much the same.  We have to first become competitive in the MAC, then qualify for the tournament, meaning we are in the top eight in the MAC, remain competitive and then win the championship. That’s the direction I would like to take. It will take time, but we know what wins in this conference,” Hanna said.

Hanna is on a mission to bring change for the volleyball team and understands that this process may take time but doesn’t see time as a factor. “We need to find who we are first and that will take time. Needing to develop an identity of what we do well and what we don’t do so well, while also looking at the conference and where they compare to us,” Hanna said.

The steps to competing and remaining in the hunt are more important than a quick one-and-done run for Hanna; he wants to set Akron up as a potential threat to win the MAC every season.

Akron is a team that underperformed last year with an overall record of 8-23. Their last season was one full of errors and missed opportunities that denied the team any real success throughout the season. Under the new head coach Hanna, the Akron Zips volleyball team could be in for something big for seasons to come.