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Debbie Brown: If Her Office Walls Could Talk
These framed photos of past Notre Dame volleyball teams on the wall of head coach Debbie Brown's office help reinforce the importance of family to the Fighting Irish coach and her program.
 
These framed photos of past Notre Dame volleyball teams on the wall of head coach Debbie Brown's office help reinforce the importance of family to the Fighting Irish coach and her program.

Sept. 18, 2013

What do you find if you walk into the office of a University of Notre Dame head coach? What's on the walls often provides some insight into the past, the interests and the philosophies of each of those individuals. During the 2013-14 athletic season, we'll take you into each of those offices and show and tell you about some items of significance and why they are meaningful.

Heard about the importance of family at the University of Notre Dame?

You can't miss that angle when you wander through the office of University of Notre Dame volleyball coach Debbie Brown.

Walk through the door into Brown's space and you're immediately facing an outer wall containing 15 framed team pictures of her Irish volleyball teams.

"Coaching is about players -- and providing a great experience for them. That's why adding team pictures every year made sense," she says.

One slight problem ensued -- only 15 of the same frames existed, so only Brown's first 15 Notre Dame teams made the cut (so far). On her "to-do" list is to update the team photo wall and add the last seven years (and more to come) of team photos. Her current team shot always receives preferred treatment in a special gold frame that sits on a round table in her office.

"It's been a while since anything has been added," Brown says. "We had every intention of putting the team shots up every year, but then we just ran out of the frames."

Sprinkled throughout the office are several dozen family photos, most including husband Dennis (Notre Dame's University spokesman and assistant vice president) and sons Connor and Ryan, both current Notre Dame undergraduates.

"My birthday is in October and every year Dennis gives me a framed picture of our two sons," Brown says.

Since Ryan is now 19, that means there are 19 shots of the two boys spread around the office.

"That's the most important thing in here, even though it has nothing to do with my team," says Brown.

 

 

For Brown, that comprises her "family" -- the combination of year after year of her Irish volleyball players, combined with her own personal family.

Volleyball is impossible to miss, as you assess what else sits atop bookshelves and can be found framed on walls:

Brown was a co-captain on the 1980 U.S. Olympic Volleyball Team, and later served an assistant coach for the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team.


  • Four trophies signifying BIG EAST Conference coach-of-the-year awards, to go with 10 more plaques on the wall recognizing various coach-of-the-year honors (four from the Midwestern Collegiate Conference).
  • A large montage of images feting her 500th career victory -- a 3-0 win over Seton Hall on Sept. 30, 2006.
  • The scroll denoting the honorary monogram presented to her by the Notre Dame Monogram Club in 1999.
  • Her framed red, number-five USA jersey from competition leading to the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow (Dennis wants it known he handled the framing part). She was a co-captain of that squad.
  • A participation certificate from the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea (she served as an assistant coach for the United States squad) along with a team photo.
  • A photo of the bronze-medal-winning USA team from the 1990 World Volleyball Championship in Beijing (Brown was an assistant coach for that squad as well).
  • A Japanese volleyball magazine cover from 1979 showing Brown and her United States bronze medal from the Spartakiad in Russia.
  • Three volleyballs -- one for her 500th career win, a second for her 500th win at Notre Dame and a third for her 600th career win (3-1 over Buffalo on Sept. 1, 2012).
  • Six participation awards for various BIG EAST volleyball titles.
  • A shot of Brown carrying the torch in January 2002 as part of the Olympic Torch Relay leading up to the Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
  • Brown had the honor of serving as an Olympic torch bearer when the relay passed through South Bend on its way to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.


    "That was a special opportunity. My parents were able to be there to see it, and my boys were old enough to understand what it meant. For me it was a highly emotional experience to be able to be a part of that," she says.

    In the volleyball outer offices are 26 framed color photos of previous Notre Dame volleyball team MVP selections -- with two at the lower right left vacant, with the inscription "Future ND MVP."

    There are also four plaques signifying team academic awards won during Brown's time with the Irish -- as presented by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

    Finally, there are two NCAA plaques -- one honoring Notre Dame as the 2003 national statistical team leader in blocks and another recognizing Lauren Brewster for leading the country in that same category in that same year.

    Particularly dear to Brown are three ceramic sculptures created by her late father, Charlie Landreth -- one of a leprechaun and two showing volleyball-related poses.

    This ceramic leprechaun statue was made by Brown's late father, Charlie Landreth, while the framed photos of sons, Connor and Ryan, are an annual birthday gift from Brown's husband, Dennis.


    "My dad's artwork is pretty special to me. Since I graduated from USC, when I came to Notre Dame my dad had no real intention of showing any interest in anything here other than volleyball. But less then a year later he was completely converted to being a huge Notre Dame fan," Brown says.

    Associate head coach Robin Davis notes that behind the office door on the floor is a black-and-white shot of Brown celebrating with her USC teammates after beating UCLA in 1976. That marked USC's first volleyball win over UCLA, and the Trojans went on to claim NCAA titles in both '76 and 1977.

    There's not much missing from Brown's resume -- or what you find in her office.

    An El Segundo, Calif., product, she's had a dominating playing career at the NCAA, Olympic and international levels and qualifies as one of the greatest all-around players in the history of the sport.

    After six seasons as head coach at Arizona State (including five NCAA Championship appearances), she's now in season number-23 at Notre Dame, with 17 previous NCAA appearances in the rear-view mirror.

    And, she's all about her own and her volleyball "families" -- as those walls will tell you.

    -- John Heisler, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations

    Event Calendar

    Delta

    September 23
    W, 3-0
    Louisville
    Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)
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    ACC Network Extra
    Free Admission | Superhero Night | Free Shirt Friday - First 500 fans get a superhero-themed T-shirt
    September 25
    W, 3-0
    Miami
    Coral Gables, Fla. (James L. Knight Complex)
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    ACC Network Extra
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    September 30
    7:00 PM
    Duke
    Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

    ACC Network Extra
    ACC Network Extra
    Flashback Friday Free Shirt Friday - First 500 fans receive a retro-themed T-shirt
    October 2
    1:00 PM
    Wake Forest
    Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

    ACC Network Extra
    ACC Network Extra
    First 500 fans receive ND headbands Health & Fitness Day - Post-match Zumba session ND Faculty/Staff Appreciation Day
    October 7
    7:00 PM
    Syracuse
    Syracuse, N.Y. (Women's Building)
    October 9
    12:00 PM
    Boston College
    Chestnut Hill, Mass. (Power Gym)
    October 14
    7:00 PM
    North Carolina
    Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

    ACC Network Extra
    Free Shirt Friday - first 500 fans receive a free T-shirt
    October 16
    1:00 PM
    NC State
    Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

    ACC Network Extra
    Post-Match Autographs
    October 21
    7:00 PM
    Pitt
    Pittsburgh, Pa. (Fitzgerald Field House)
    October 23
    1:00 PM
    Virginia Tech
    Blacksburg, Va. (Cassell Coliseum)
    October 28
    7:00 PM
    Miami
    Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

    ACC Network Extra
    Block Out Cancer
    October 30
    1:00 PM
    Florida State
    Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

    ACC Network Extra
    "Volloween" - Kids wearing costumes get in free / Pre-match Trick or Treat at the Joyce / Post-match movie on the video board
    November 4
    7:30 PM
    Wake Forest
    Winston-Salem, N.C. (Summit School)
    November 6
    12:00 PM
    Duke
    Durham, N.C. (Cameron Indoor Stadium)
    November 9
    7:00 PM
    Louisville
    Louisville, Ky. (KFC Yum! Center)
    November 13
    1:00 PM
    Virginia
    Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

    ACC Network Extra
    Military Appreciation Day First 300 fans receive a ND Volleyball camo hat Post-Match Autographs
    November 18
    7:00 PM
    Clemson
    Clemson, S.C. (Jervey Gym)
    November 20
    1:00 PM
    Georgia Tech
    Atlanta, Ga. (O'Keefe Gymnasium)
    November 23
    7:00 PM
    Boston College
    Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

    ACC Network Extra
    November 25
    1:00 PM
    Syracuse
    Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

    ACC Network Extra
    Fan Appreciation Day - All tickets just $3 Free Shirt Friday - First 500 fans get a Black Friday-themed T-shirt) Senior Day
    December 2
    TBA
    TBD
    TBD
    December 4
    TBA
    TBD
    TBD
    December 9
    TBA
    TBD
    TBD
    December 10
    TBA
    TBD
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    December 15
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    Columbus, Ohio (Nationwide Arena)
    December 17
    TBA
    TBD
    Columbus, Ohio (Nationwide Arena)

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