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Coaching that Changes Lives


Coaches are mentors, motivators, and teachers, inspiring athletes to hone their skills constantly, commit themselves to long hours of practice, and give their utmost in competition. These habits of mind continue to serve athletes long after their playing days are over. As a result, coaches' statistics can be seen as indicators, not only of success in competition but also of the impact they can have on a student-athlete's postgraduate career.

Considered in this light, Debbie Ryan, who stepped down this year as head coach of the women's basketball team, is one of the most influential coaches in Virginia history. It is not simply that she was U.Va.'s longest serving head coach, coaching for thirty-four years, but rather that she encouraged generations of young women to excel. Her teams compiled an overall record of 739-324 and participated in the NCAA Tournament twenty-four times. They reached the NCAA Tournament's Final Four three times, and the Sweet Sixteen twelve times, while winning three ACC Tournament titles and eleven ACC regular-season championships. Named ACC Coach of the Year seven times, Ms. Ryan is a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

Dom Starsia

Joanne Boyle, the head coach at the University of California at Berkeley the last six years, has taken over the U.Va. women's basketball program. Her statistics are similarly impressive. In nine years as a collegiate head coach, including three years at the University of Richmond, her teams have compiled an overall record of 204-93 and participated in postseason play every year.

Men's and women's swimming and diving coach Mark Bernardino and men's lacrosse coach Dom Starsia are clearly following in Ms. Ryan's footsteps. Now in his thirty-fourth season, Mr. Bernardino is a thirty-one-time winner of ACC Coach of the Year honors, having earned the award eighteen times for the men's team and thirteen times for the women's squad. He won both awards this year.

Mr. Starsia's lacrosse teams have won 329 games during his head coaching career, more than any other Division I men's lacrosse head coach. His nineteen Virginia teams have compiled an overall record of 228-72, with the 2011 championship the program's fourth NCAA Championship under his guidance. Mr. Starsia is a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Four coaches earned a total of five ACC Coach of the Year Awards in 2010–11. In addition to Mr. Bernardino, ACC Coach of the Year awards went to men's tennis coach Brian Boland, baseball coach Brian O'Connor, and rowing coach Kevin Sauer. In addition, Mr. Boland, Mr. O'Connor, and women's tennis coach Mark Guilbeau were named Atlantic Region Coach of the Year in their respective sports, and Brian Bailie was recognized as the National Golf Coaches Association's Assistant Women's Coach of the Year