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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

New volleyball coach joins Brandeis team

Published: August 22, 2014
Section: Sports

Head Volleyball Coach Michelle Kim recently stepped down from the position when she was promoted to assistant athletic director. Kim has been replaced this summer by Alesia Vaccari.

Vaccari comes to Brandeis after spending three years as the head coach at Simmons College. Before working at Simmons, Vaccari was the graduate assistant at Clarkson University for two years.

At Simmons, Vaccari faced many challenges—first in recruiting, as Simmons is an all-women institution which makes it hard to find students who felt it was the right fit. However, Vaccari’s team still saw much success. When she joined the team, the women resided at the bottom of the Great Northeast Atlantic Conference (GNAC). After just one season, she brought them to fourth out of the 12 teams in the conference.

Volleyball has always been a big part of Vaccari’s life. “My mother was a high school coach, so I really grew up on the volleyball court, and she then became my coach when I got to high school,” Vaccari said. She played at the Gilbert School in Winsted, Connecticut, then went on to play for all four years at Springfield College. At Springfield, she was the team’s all-time leader in assists, as well as the 2004 New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Player of the Year. Vaccari graduated in 2006.

Vaccari was named head coach earlier this summer, and has been busily preparing for the upcoming season. From working at camps and picking other coaches’ brains, she is trying to learn about what sort of plays and strategies will be successful in the University Athletic Association (UAA).

Even though classes are not yet in session, Vaccari says that she has met some of the players, and that they seem excited about getting back on the court in the fall. “I am most excited to see what these young women are capable of doing with the challenge at hand,” said Vaccari. At the same time, Vaccari believes that one of her biggest challenges will be to learn about the current team and its nuances, and ensuring that the athletes “take ownership of our goals from day one, and trust in my vision for the program.”

“Alesia is a coach on the rise,” Athletic Director Sheryl Sousa said in a Brandeis Athletics statement. “I think she is up to the challenge that coaching in New England and in the University Athletic Association will present.” Sousa was the Brandeis head volleyball coach from 1998-2003.

So far, the Brandeis Athletics community has been supportive of Vaccari in her transition. “The atmosphere here is very welcoming. I have known that Brandeis is a prestigious institution, and I am truly honored to be a part of the staff.”

Women’s volleyball will kick off their season on Aug. 29 at home against Rivier University. Last year their overall record was 10-25. Their in-conference record was 1-6.