Kuhn Named National Assistant Coach of the Year
|Laura “Bird” Kuhn
OMAHA, Neb. – Kansas associate head coach Laura Kuhn was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) National Assistant Coach of the Year at a banquet on Thursday afternoon.
Kuhn, affectionately known as Bird, accepted the award after the Jayhawks’ midday practice for tonight’s NCAA Championship Semifinal match against No. 4 Nebraska (8:30 p.m., ESPN2) inside CenturyLink Pavilion.
Since Kuhn arrived at Kansas for the 2011 season, the Jayhawks have reached unprecedented marks. KU has won 118 matches in five seasons with her on staff, including this season’s program-record .938 winning percentage (30-2), spending the majority of the 2015 season in the top-10 of the AVCA Coaches Poll, hosting the NCAA Championship First and Second Rounds four consecutive seasons, and advancing to the program’s first NCAA Championship Semifinals.
“This is more about our whole staff and program at KU – everyone who is apart it,” Kuhn said. “We say to our student-athletes on the court, “what can you do to make your teammates’ job easier?” We do the same with our staff. I can’t accept this award and not think that Coach B (Ray Bechard), Todd Chamberlain, Lucas Yanez and everyone who is a part of this program. We are all working towards the same goal.”
Kuhn oversees the development of middle blockers, among other duties in the program. Her first recruiting commitments when arriving in Lawrence were current juniors Tayler Soucie and Cassie Wait. Soucie has gone on to earn All-Big 12 First Team honor in the last two seasons and Wait has moved into third-place on KU’s career digs list through two seasons as the Jayhawks’ primary libero.
Kuhn and the KU coaching staff has trained seven Jayhawk AVCA All-Americans in the last five seasons, including the program’s first-ever AVCA All-America First Team honorees in 2015 – Ainise Havili and Kelsie Payne.
The Tiffin, Ohio, native played collegiately at Georgia Tech and coached at Appalachian State, Florida State and Miami (Fla.) before arriving at the University of Kansas.
The award is particularly significant to Kuhn because it marks the fifth anniversary of her father’s sudden passing in December of 2010. Her father, Jim, coached Kuhn and her sister in basketball all throughout high school.
“This was his dream – to see me succeed in coaching,” Kuhn said. “He was a coach. I am a coach. The coach in me is just like him. I know for a fact he would be here with me in Omaha with me and my mom celebrating.”
Coach Bechard and Kansas Athletics awarded her dedication and effectiveness on the Kansas volleyball program with a promotion to associate head coach before the start of the 2015 season.
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