Wednesday, 21 February 2024
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Former Penn State Men’s and Women’s Volleyball Coach Tom Tait Passes Away

Former Penn State Men's and Women's Volleyball Coach Tom Tait Passes Away


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Tom Tait, an integral part of the Penn State community as a coach, mentor and professor spanning across four decades, passed away Friday. He was 86.
 
Tait was often referred to as the “Father of Penn State Volleyball” as the first head coach of both programs, starting the women’s program in 1976 and leading the men’s program’s transition to varsity status in 1977.
 
In 12 seasons as head coach of the men’s volleyball team in Happy Valley, Tait led the Nittany Lions to eight conference titles and six appearances in the NCAA Final Four, including a trip to the National Championship match in 1984. He was named the Eastern Collegiate Coach of the Year five times and was selected as the Volleyball Monthly National Coach of the Year in 1986. Tait coached 20 All-Americans during his tenure while posting an impressive record of 336-97. He set a standard of consistency as one of just three head coaches in the 48-year history as a varsity program.
 
“Coach Tait took Penn State from a very good regional club program to one of the best programs in the NCAA through his sheer force of personality and perseverance,” said current Penn State men’s volleyball head coach Mark Pavlik, who played for Tait in the early 80’s. “He was so instrumental in my development, and the support he had for our program and the University is incalculable. Many of the things we have done over the past 30 years were molded by him, especially the culture and relationships we have with our alumni. He is the reason that not only Penn State volleyball improved, but the reason that volleyball improved across the state of Pennsylvania during the 70’s and 80’s.”
 
Tait was also one of just three head coaches in the 48-year history of the Penn State women’s volleyball program. He laid the groundwork as the team’s head coach for the first three seasons from 1976-78 before handing over the reins to Russ Rose. The upward trajectory of the program was almost immediate as the Nittany Lions followed their six-win inaugural season with 25 wins in year two and 20 in year three. The 1977 and 1978 teams each qualified for the Eastern Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (EAIAW) Tournament, which existed before the NCAA first sponsored a women’s championship tournament in 1981.
 
”I am deeply saddened by the passing of Tom Tait but…

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