Debuted each year at the OSCARS - the year-end highlight video provides a look back at all 26 varsity sports competed at the University of Notre Dame and is created in cooperation with the Student Welfare and Development Office and LeSea Broadcasting.
Debbie Brown is one of only a handful of coaches in volleyball who has been able to parlay a dominating playing career into an equally impressive coaching resume.
A two-time winner of the Mikasa Award during her collegiate days as volleyball's best all-around player, Brown notched her 600th career win as a head coach and her 500th as the leader of the Irish during the 2012 campaign, and her win total of 617 ranks her 14th in that category among active Division I head coaches. In fact, only four active coaches have more wins in as many or fewer seasons than the co-captain of the 1980 United States Olympic team.
While her credentials are virtually unmatched among collegiate coaches and players across the country, Brown has turned into one of the nation's elite mentors, leading her teams to 26 consecutive winning seasons, 13 finishes in the top 25 of the AVCA national rankings and 22 invitations to the NCAA Championship (including a streak of 15 consecutive bids from 1992-2006).
Brown is entering the 2013 season, her 23rd at Notre Dame and 29th as a collegiate head coach, with a 617-289 (.681) career record including a 500-206 (.708) mark with the Irish. Her squads have made the round of 16 in the NCAA Championship six times, highlighted by a trip to the 1993 quarterfinals. Fifteen regular-season conference championships and 13 league tournament titles are among the accomplishments of Brown-led teams, which have won 20 or more matches 18 times in the last 26 seasons.
When taking over the reigns at Notre Dame, Brown inherited a program that had just five winning seasons in its first 11 years of varsity volleyball action but turned it into a perennial BIG EAST Conference powerhouse during the program's 18-year run in the league (1995-2012). During that time the Irish won nine BIG EAST Tournament Championships and were a runner-up five times in 18 tournament appearances. The Irish qualified for the postseason tournament every year they were in the league. They also boasted home BIG EAST win streaks of 45 matches (10.1.99 - 11.09.02), 35 matches (9.30.05 - 10.4.98) and 19 matches (11.16.08 - 10.3.10).
Nine of her teams have been ranked in the AVCA's final poll. During regular season play, the Irish have cracked the top 10 in consecutive campaigns under Brown, while peaking at an all-time best fifth in 1995 and sixth in 1996 in the Volleyball Magazine rankings. In 2005, her squad achieved its highest ever listing in the AVCA poll, moving up to fifth after entering the season unranked (it was the first time any school had ever cracked the AVCA top five after being unranked in the preseason).
That same 2005 version of the Irish put together one of the best campaigns in program history by posting the school's first 30-win season since 1994. All four of the team's defeats came in five-set matches. Notre Dame went 5-1 against top-15 teams and earned an all-time Irish high No. 6 seed in the NCAA Championship. Notre Dame played host to the first two rounds and advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since 1997 before falling in five sets to Wisconsin. The Irish - who rattled off a 15-match winning streak and spent a program-record 11 weeks in the AVCA's top 10 - went 13-1 while winning their 10th regular season BIG EAST Championship in 11 years of league membership. In a clash between two top-10 teams, Notre Dame handed Louisville a five-set defeat in the conference tournament finale to give Brown her ninth BIG EAST Tournament title.
The 2005 squad also featured the first player in program history - 2006 graduate Lauren Brewster - to earn both athletic and academic All-American accolades.
Brown was recognized as the 2005 BIG EAST Volleyball Coach of the Year - the league's first five-time winner of the award - and named the top coach in the AVCA's Northeast Region while becoming a finalist for the AVCA's national award.
She has helped Notre Dame to a variety of dominating performances, including a 230-33 (.875) record in regular season action against conference teams (27-0 vs. Midwestern Collegiate Conference, 203-37 vs. BIG EAST Conference). That includes a 117-12 (.907) record at home and, at one point, a 79-match winning streak against conference foes (regular season and postseason) that ranks as the fifth-longest conference winning streak in Division I volleyball history (AIAW or NCAA). The longest losing streak suffered by any single Irish squad in one season under Brown stands at four matches, which has happened only three times over the past 21 seasons.
Under Brown, Notre Dame was perfect in BIG EAST regular season play seven times (including a 14-0 mark in 2009), going on to win 11 regular-season titles and nine tournament championships. The league's player of the year came from Notre Dame six times, while Irish student-athletes garnered 60 all-conference accolades, including 32 first-team honors.
Brown has seen her Irish players gain All-America accolades on 18 occasions, with Brewster becoming the first Notre Dame player to be selected as an AVCA All-American (third team in 2004 and second team in 2005). In 2009, three of Brown's players were named All-Americans. Serinity Phillips was named a third team All-American while Christina Kaelin and Jamel Nicholas earned honorable mention accolades. A pair of sophomore standouts received honorable mention All-America honors in 2012 as Toni Alugbue and Jeni Houser brought home honors after impressive campaigns.
Additionally, Brown's players have earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honors three times, while they have won the conference player-of-the-year award nine times and been named the top player in the league tournament on 12 occasions. In all, Brown-era Irish players have combined for 75 all-conference honors, including 41 first-team selections. Also, Notre Dame student-athletes have garnered all-region or all-district recognition from the AVCA 53 times since Brown's arrival.
Under her tutelage, Irish student-athletes have earned three invitations to join the U.S. National Team program and have made four trips to the U.S. Olympic Festival.
Brown has turned Notre Dame into one of the popular choices for top recruits in the country. Since Volleyball Magazine began compiling its "Fab 50" list in 1990, 27 honorees have joined the Irish program, which ranks 16th among national programs. Four of those players (Kristen Kinder, Emily Loomis, Adrianna Stasiuk and Jeni Houser) went on to earn All-America honors at some point in their Irish careers.
Volleyball Magazine ranked both the 2000 and 2002 classes in the top-10 nationally. PrepVolleyball.com ranked the 2006 incoming class fifth in the nation while the 2010 and 2011 classes copped top-15 honors.
Since the NCAA began keeping official national statistics in 1994, Notre Dame's first two national statistical crowns both came in 2003. The Irish led Division I with a team blocking average of 3.72/set (Cornell was second with 3.52), while Brewster was tops in individual blocking with a 1.78/set mark.
Seven of Brown's former Irish players have gone on to play professionally. Angie (Harris) Akers is currently active in the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP), while Jaimie Lee competed in the league until 2005. Jessica and Kristen Kinder (2004) also played briefly on the beach. Akers - who finished in the top 20 of the AVP standings in her first four seasons on tour - was the 2002 AVP Rookie of the Year, an honor Lee earned one year later. Three former Notre Dame competitors were active in the United States Professional Volleyball league in 2002 as Denise Boylan and Kristy Kreher were members of the Minnesota Chill and Molly Stark played for the St. Louis Quest. 2012 graduate Kristen Dealy played overseas for Katrineholms VK in Sweden during the 2012-13 indoor season.
Lee and Boylan were invited to train with the United States National Team program during the summer of 1998, while the former earned a spot on the 1997 World University Games team. Kreher (1998-2001) also was one of just 20 players named to the USA Junior National Team in 2000.
Seven of Brown's former Irish assistants have gone on to become head coaches: Robin Davis (Boise State before returning to Notre Dame), Andria Harshmann (Grace College) Devin Scruggs (Nevada), Steve Schlick (Cal Poly), Sue Woodstra (Pittsburgh, California, Humboldt State), Leah Johnson (SIU Edwardsville) and 2004 AVCA National Coach of the Year Jim McLaughlin (Washington), who led the Huskies to the 2005 NCAA title.
Brown also coached several premier players at Arizona State, including three-time Olympian Tammy (Webb) Leibl (1988-96) and All-Americans Christy Nore and Regina Stahl. The Sun Devils were ranked among the top programs in the nation for six seasons, and in 1986 Brown led the Sun Devils to a 27-7 record and was named Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year. She compiled a 117-83 record en route to five NCAA Tournament berths while at Arizona State.
After serving as a program consultant since 1986, Brown took a leave of absence in 1988 to serve as an assistant coach for the United States National Team before accepting a full-time national team position in 1989. Brown's duties centered on helping improve the national team's defense and her efforts played a role in a United States bronze medal finish at the 1990 World Championship in China. She also coached national teams in the 1985 and 1991 Olympic Festivals.
Since picking up the sport late in her high school days, Brown has become one of the most respected and accomplished individuals in all of volleyball. She grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of El Segundo and became one of the nation's top prep players. She competed as a 17-year-old for the United States at the 1974 World Championship in Mexico City and a year later played on the adidas team that won the USVBA title.
After graduating from El Segundo High School, she captained the University of Southern California to a 72-1 two-year record and national titles in both 1976 and 1977, including a 38-0 run in 1977 that, until 1998, was the only unbeaten season in Division I women's volleyball history. Her 1977 squad is still considered one of the all-time greatest at any level of volleyball. Brown (then Debbie Landreth) twice was named a collegiate All-American and received the Mikasa Award as the "nation's best all-around player" in 1976 and 1977.
USC paid tribute to Brown during the 2008 season by naming her a program "All-Time Great," an honor shared with Trojan teammate Sue Woodstra. A permanent banner with Brown's name and jersey number now hangs from the rafters of USC's Galen Center.
The 5-foot-8 outside hitter left USC prior to her junior year, accepting an invitation to train full-time with the U.S. National Team. She co-captained the team to a fifth-place finish at the 1978 World Championships. A year later, she and her teammates - including all-time greats Debbie Green, Flo Hyman, Rita Crockett and Woodstra - qualified for the Olympics in Moscow and were considered serious medal contenders before the United States elected to boycott the games. Four of Brown's former United States teammates went on to become college head coaches.
After serving as co-captain of the 1980 Olympic team, Brown completed her degree in physical education at Arizona State in 1982. As an undergraduate she began her coaching career as an assistant under Dale Flickinger at Arizona State, filling that role from 1980-82 before serving in the same capacity at Central Arizona College during the 1982 season. She returned to Arizona State as head coach in 1983.
Her international experience and travels have afforded her the opportunity to coach and play in 22 countries across the world. In honor of her work, Brown was selected as an Olympic Torchbearer for the 2002 Winter Olympic Torch Relay when it traveled through the Northern Indiana area.
In May of 1995, USA Volleyball named Brown an "All-Time Great Volleyball Player," the highest honor given by the organization. Brown and fellow honoree Karch Kiraly, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and beach volleyball legend, were recognized at the U.S. Open Championships in Springfield, Mass., and had their photos and records added to the Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, Mass. Established in 1954, the "All-Time Great" designation honors players with Olympic, national team or All-America honors, U.S. Open Championships, and overall dominance during a particular era. Among the 51 previous winners before Brown were Hyman, Woodstra, Green, Crockett, and Laurel Brassey - all former teammates.
Brown earned USVBA All-America honors eight times and won the USVBA's Kilgore Sportsmanship Award in 1983. A six-time USVBA first team All-American, Brown was a member of the USVBA Board of Directors and the U.S. Olympic Committee's Athlete Advisory Council. She served a two-year term (1995-96) as president of the American Volleyball Coaches Association and was a member of its All-America selection committee.
In 2003, Brown was recognized for her outstanding career by the NCAA with the Silver Anniversary Award, which annually recognizes six distinguished student-athletes for accomplishments since concluding their collegiate playing days 25 years earlier.
Brown played for the 1975, 1985 and 1986 USVBA national championship teams. In 1992, she joined several of her former Olympic squad teammates to capture the USVBA senior division national title in Reno, Nev.
Recognizing Brown's effort and success, the Notre Dame Monogram Club bestowed upon her an honorary monogram at the annual club banquet in 1999. Brown was inducted into the Colorado Springs (Colo.) Sports Hall of Fame in 2010 along with fellow teammates from the 1980 United States Olympic women's volleyball squad.
Brown has been actively involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Young Life, serving as a motivational speaker and coach at national banquets and camps. Brown and her husband, Dennis, are active members of Oak Creek Community church in Mishawaka where she has regularly served in the children's ministry and has attended the Women's Bible study.
The Brown's have two sons, Connor and Ryan. Connor is a sophomore at Notre Dame, while Ryan will be a freshman in 2013-14.