Johnson Named Head Volleyball Coach

<b>AMES, Iowa -</b> Wisconsin assistant volleyball coach Christy Johnson, a former two-time All-American at Nebraska whose Badger teams have been NCAA Tournament qualifiers in each of her eight seasons in Madison, Wis., has been named head coach at Iowa State, Cyclone athletics director Bruce Van De Velde announced Friday.

The 31-year-old Johnson coached in the 2000 NCAA Division I Championship game and three regional finals (final eight) at Wisconsin as an assistant to head coaches John Cook (1997-99) and Pete Waite (1999- ). Wisconsin was 22-10 in 2004 and came within one match of the Final Four before losing to Stanford this month in a regional final. Johnson's tenure in Madison includes coaching on three Big Ten championship teams. The Badgers have compiled an overall record of 212-54 (.797) with Johnson as an assistant coach.

"We are thrilled to have one of the top young coaches in the country coming to Iowa State with such wide-ranging experience as a player and a coach," Van De Velde said. "(ISU senior associate athletic director) Calli Sanders and the search committee did a great job."

At Wisconsin, Johnson spent her first two years as an assistant under John Cook and just finished her sixth year under current Badger head coach Pete Waite. Johnson guided setter Lizzy Fitzgerald to two AVCA All-America honors and a spot on the U.S. National Team roster. She also coached setter Morgan Shields to All-America honors in 2002. Wisconsin setter Jackie Simpson made the Big 10 all-freshman team this season.

"Christy's resume of success at every level of volleyball competition is what initially garnered our attention and helped her get an interview," Sanders said. "Once we met her in person, we knew that we had something special. Christy comes with the highest recommendations of people like (former Nebraska national championship coach) Terry Pettit and (Wisconsin head coach) Pete Waite. We are very excited about the future of Iowa State volleyball."

Johnson's experience in the NCAA Tournament goes back to her days as one of the greatest players in Nebraska history. She earned All-America honors for the Huskers in 1994 and 1995. Johnson was the starting setter on the 1995 Nebraska team that won the NCAA championship. The Huskers made four NCAA tournament appearances and won three Big Eight titles during Johnson's collegiate career. A two-time all-district selection and two-time all-Big Eight Conference honoree, Johnson was also named to the 1995 NCAA Championship all-tournament team, the 1994 and 1995 NCAA Regional all-tournament team, and the 1994 and 1995 Big Eight Conference all-tournament teams. In addition to her athletic honors, Johnson was a 1995 second-team Academic All-American and a three-time Academic All-Big Eight honoree.

"Iowa State has made a commitment to volleyball and the more I talked with Bruce (Van De Velde) and Calli (Sanders) the more I saw that this is a special opportunity," Johnson said. "I look forward to working with everyone at Iowa State to further the success of Cyclone volleyball."

Johnson has international experience as a member of the 1989 U.S. Junior National team and as a member of the 1993 U.S. National "B" Team. She played with the Nebraska Tornadoes of the National Volleyball Association for two seasons, leading the Tornadoes to the league championship in 1998.

"Christy has worked as an assistant under two exceptional coaches and was probably the greatest leader I had on the court at Nebraska," Pettit said. "She has great interpersonal skills so people don't always realize how intensely focused she is on being successful."

A 1996 graduate of Nebraska with a bachelor's degree in education, Johnson spent one year coaching at Millard North High School in her hometown of Omaha, Neb. She also served as a coach in the River City Juniors Volleyball Club program for two years.

Johnson replaces Linda Crum, who resigned earlier this month.

Quotes from Christy Johnson at the ISU Volleyball Press Conference

Iowa State Head Coach Christy Johnson:

"First, I want to thank my parents for making the trip from Omaha. I know they are just as excited as I am to be apart of this program and I appreciate all their support over the years. It's great to have them here, to be closer to home."

"I am absolutely thrilled to be standing here. I've been a player and a coach in the midwest for almost 15 years now and I believe everything I've done up to this point has prepared me for this moment and this position. I believe Iowa State is ready to go and I do want to thank Bruce (Van De Velde) and Calli (Sanders). They have been amazingly supportive in bringing me in and showing me everything Iowa State has to offer and I am convinced that they are in full support of the Iowa State volleyball program and it's a big reason why I'm here. I'm convinced they are behind me 100 percent and the volleyball program and I am ready to take on this position and I'm excited and thrilled to be standing here."

What kinds of things convinced you that Iowa State was a good place for you?

"The big thing is the support, financially with facilities, the administration, all the staff that I met on my interview. I was really impressed with how excited they were about the program, the things they felt they could help me achieve here. I got to meet with the team and they were awesome and they are excited and I know they are ready to make a push forward and so I would say just the university and the administration, in particular. The things we talked about proved to me that they were ready to help me in the process of building a strong program here at Iowa State."

What do you see as the biggest challenge you face in building your program?

"I'd like to focus on what needs to happen here in order for us to be successful. I'm really comfortable recruiting in the midwest and I know that we're going to need to bring in and compete against the other midwest schools in bringing in the best athletes in the midwest so that's going to be a challenge in that there are a lot of good programs surrounding Iowa State and my challenge will be to bring in the best athletes. For me personally, just the transition is always interesting and, of course, getting to know my way around, but I've done it before and I'm excited about it and I'm very familiar with the midwest. I have a ton of connections here. I know a lot of the Iowa coaches, in club and in high school and also in Nebraska, Kansas and Minnesota, so I'm going to work on those connections, deepen them and really focus my efforts on bringing in the best athletes in the area."

How important is it in the recruiting process to get the best Iowa kids?

"That's probably my number one priority. Iowa has great volleyball. Great high school volleyball, great club volleyball and there's a lot of athletes here and that's probably going to be my first priority is to get those kids, convince them that Iowa State is a great place to be. To come with us on the journey we're about to take and I know that we can build a strong program just with the kids in this area. I'm convinced of that. I've been recruiting here for the past several years, that was one of my jobs at Wisconsin to be the recruiting coordinator, so I've seen all the talent that's here in this area and I know that I need to work hard in getting those kids in."

What do you think of the talent you have here?

"To be honest, I haven't seen them play yet. Since Wisconsin played in a different conference, I didn't get to see them or compete against them and I haven't been able to seem them personally, but from what I've heard from other people, I know that they are a talented bunch. I know that the girls feel ready to take a step forward with the program. The administration and some of the other coaches I've talked to that there is a lot of talent here and were going to have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but I feel really good about what's already here. I don't feel like we've got this tremendous task ahead of us in terms of the players we have in the program. I got to spend a lot of time with them on my interview and I was excited just by meeting them and getting to know them a little bit. But I feel really good about just what we're going to have in the next year. I think it's going to be a lot of fun."

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