Dingman reaches 700th game as volleyball coach


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When the Iowa volleyball team travels to East Lansing, Mich., today to face the Michigan State Spartans, it will mark Sharon Dingmans’ 700th game as a head coach.

Dingman has registered a 391-308 record in her 22 years of coaching,

“I assumed that coaching was something that I’d be doing for most of my adult life,” she said. “I have had more ups than downs, but for me it’s just having wonderful players around me to coach and having a great staff. And that certainly creates longevity for a coach.”

Dingman’s choice to come to Iowa, however, was a difficult one. The head coach went from programs near the top of their conferences to the Hawkeyes, who were scraping the bottom of the Big Ten.

But with a history of success behind her, Dingman felt she could lift Iowa up.

Dingman a native of Monticello, Ind., has coached in the Midwest since 1992. After her first season as a head coach at Auburn in 1991 — where she recorded a 22-13 record — Dingman moved on to Butler, where she spent the next eight seasons coaching the Bulldogs.

Dingman led Butler to four 20-win seasons. She won Midwestern Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year in 2007 while leading the Bulldogs to a 28-7 record, including an NCAA Tournament berth.

From coaching at Butler — located in Indianapolis — to coaching here in Iowa, the Midwest has always been home for Dingman.

“For me in the Midwest, there is great volleyball,” she said. “From a recruiting standpoint, it’s not only where I’m most comfortable, but Midwest kids are the kids I love to coach.”

After her eight-year stint with the Bulldogs, Dingman went on to coach at Illinois State from 2000 to 2007 and registered a 147-98 record. Her team garnered numerous accolades and only had one season in which they placed lower than fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Dingman’s entire career before Iowa was focused her coaching more on trying to sustain a team with a history of success rather than building a team from the ground up.

“She’s competitive, and of course she went for the challenge of coming to a volleyball program that needed to be rebuilt because that’s the way she is,” junior Bethany Yeager said.

Coming to Iowa in 2008 meant that Dingman and her coaching staff would have to endure the daunting task of rebuilding a team in the Big Ten, arguably the nation’s toughest volleyball conference.

“It’s definitely a big adjustment for her going from the conference she was in before to the Big Ten,” senior Allison Straumman said. “Having to work from the ground up with a team while competing in the Big Ten is hard, but she’s worked on and off the court to make us better people.”

Iowa tallied an awful 42-103 record in the five seasons before Dingman took over. Now, midway through her fifth season, Dingman’s Hawkeye record is 55-96.

Dingman started from scratch with the Iowa volleyball program, but has since begun to bring in the recruits necessary to at least be competitive in the future in the Big Ten. In 2011, Dingman and her staff brought in their second nationally recognized recruiting class.

“I definitely knew that she had had success in the past,” Yeager said. “She was a huge part of why I decided to come here. Now that I’ve been here I know of the incredible things she’s done. Even if you can’t see it on the records she’s been a great coach for us.”

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