Record-breaking. History-making. Legendary. All of these words can be used to describe the tenure of Penn State head coach Russ Rose's career in Happy Valley. It’s been over four decades since Russ Rose arrived on campus in Happy Valley and his name has become synonymous with the pride and tradition of the storied Penn State women's volleyball program. He recently wrapped up his 42nd season as head coach of arguably the nation’s most elite women’s volleyball program. His record-setting seven NCAA national titles and 17 Big Ten championships speak directly to the confidence and character he’s passed along throughout his career.
Few have come close to matching Rose’s impressive win total, as he’s collected victories at a staggering pace. Never having posted less than 22 wins in a fully-competed season, his 1,309 career wins heading into the 2021 season rank first all-time among NCAA DI head coaches.
As each year passes, his list of accomplishments continues to swell, but a quick snapshot of his legendary tenure might read something like this: The leader of a women’s volleyball powerhouse who has kept his program among the nation’s elite for 42years, amassing a stunning career record of 1,309-218. He has guided his teams to a record-setting seven NCAA national titles, including an unprecedented four consecutive championships from 2007-10. Along with 17 Big Ten titles, his program is the only women’s volleyball school to compete in all 40 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball National Championship events. He’s produced multiple Olympians, four AVCA National Players of the Year, 14 Big Ten Players of the Year and at least one AVCA All-American in 41 of 42 complete seasons. His student-athletes excel in the classroom as well, with an outstanding 213 Academic All-Big Ten selections and 12 Academic All-Americans, who have earned 19 selections.
Those who know Rose, know about the tremendous impact he has made in the volleyball community, not only in Pennsylvania, but across the country.
While he prefers not to focus on personal accolades, Rose’s list of accomplishments continues to grow as each year passes. In 2014 Rose guided Penn State to its seventh NCAA national championship in program history, which now ranks as the second most of any women’s volleyball program in the country and the most by any one coach. The 2014 title marked the sixth national championship for Penn State in an eight-year span and the first back-to-back stretch of national crowns since 2009-10, when PSU rounded out its string of four straight from 2007-10.
Rose led Penn State to its first national championship in 1999, before returning to capture the title in four consecutive seasons from 2007-2010. Along the way, Rose picked up three AVCA National Coach of the Year honors and five Big Ten Coach of the Year awards, while also earning a spot in the AVCA Hall of Fame at the end of the 2007 season. Following the 2013 championship and the program’s 16th Big Ten title, Rose earned his fifth career AVCA National Coach of the Year Honor. From 2007-2010, Rose guided the Nittany Lions on their unprecedented and historic run of 109 victories, which included back-to-back 38-0 seasons in 2008 and 2009.
He has mentored 50 different Nittany Lions to a total of 110 All-America honors, including four who went on to win the AVCA National Player of the Year award. In 2014, senior Micha Hancock joined an elite group as the AVCA DI National Player of the Year. Additionally, five of the 50 honorees received All-American honors consecutively across all four years, including 2013 senior Deja McClendon, who is the most recent addition to the list.
Many of Rose’s athletes have excelled off the court, garnering 213 Academic All-Big Ten accolades as well 19 Academic All-America selections. Four of his 12 different Academic All-American Nittany Lions were also selected for the prestigious Academic All-America of the Year award.
Many of his former student-athletes are currently still in the game coaching or playing professionally. This long list includes 2012 Olympic silver medalists Christa Dietzen (Harmotto) and Megan Easy (Hodge).Haleigh Washington and Micha Hancock were recently selected to play in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, while Megan Courtney will serve as an alternate.
Throughout his career, Rose has been called on to share his expertise with coaches and players who represent the United States in International competition. He’s also an active clinician, traveling around both the United States and other parts of the world to share his vast knowledge of the game.
A 1975 graduate of the George Williams College, Rose was a member of the school’s 1974 NAIA national championship team and captain of the 1975 squad. Upon graduation, he remained at George Williams as a part-time coach, helping the women’s team to a pair of state titles and a sixth-place finish at the national level. In 1978, he earned his master’s degree from the University of Nebraska, while also serving as a defensive coach for the women’s team. While writing his thesis on volleyball statistics, he led the second team to a two-year varsity mark of 52-5.
A 2013 Penn State Honorary Alumni honoree, Rose married Lori Barberich, a former three-time All-American at Penn State in 1986. The two are the parents of four sons, Jonathan, Michael, Christopher and Nicholas.