Veteran and successful coach Gary Sien chosen to lead VU volleyball program - Athletics

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Veteran and successful coach Gary Sien chosen to lead VU volleyball program

Vincennes University has named veteran college volleyball coach Gary Sien to head up the Trailblazer program.

Sien replaces Stephanie Armstrong, who resigned this spring to take an assistant coaching position at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX.

Sien brings a wealth of success in NJCAA volleyball, as well as valuable experience at the four-year program level. He was the head coach at Kankakee Community College for the past 16 seasons (while serving as coordinator of the KCC Fitness Center).

“We welcome Gary and feel very fortunate to be able to add someone with his experience and long-standing success to our team of coaches,” said VU Athletic Director Harry Meeks. “Gary has not only put together winning cultures in college volleyball programs, but he has provided stability and effective leadership. We look forward to seeing the benefits of his leadership with Trailblazer volleyball.”

In addition to amassing 525 wins and leading 14 NJCAA Top-25 seasons with the Cavalier program, Sien oversaw two NJCAA Region 4 championship teams (2001, 2004), produced five NJCAA All-Americans and 34 All-Region 4 student-athletes and saw the Kankakee program turn out five NJCAA Academic All-Americans.

He was also rewarded with NJCAA Region 4 Coach of the Year honors four times.

A 1989 graduate of Trinity International University, Sien was a team captain for the Trojan men’s volleyball program for three seasons and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player as both a sophomore and junior. He was also selected to be a member of the first Athletes In Action men’s volleyball team to travel to South America in 1986.

Sien will now lead the Trailblazers during their initial season at the NJCAA Div. I level and immediately has gotten busy continuing the program’s recruiting efforts to complete the 2016 VU roster.

“I had heard last fall that VU was going to go Division One (in volleyball) and, in competing against Vincennes over the years, I was always very impressed with the facilities and academics here,” Sien said of his new post’s drawing cards. “VU is like a fertile recruiting ground when you have this type of campus and (playing) facility to show to players and their families. Also the location of Vincennes is a plus because it’s centrally located for (recruiting) in Illinois and cities like St. Louis, Indianapolis, Evansville, Louisville and – to some extent – places like Fort Wayne.”

The new Trailblazer mentor plans to make full use of those resources as he rounds out the roster for his first VU campaign. He cited the ascension to NJCAA Div. I status as an additional challenge to overcome in taking over the program, but he added that being competitive is still an expectation and considerable success shouldn’t be written off for the 2016 edition of Trailblazer volleyball.

“At any level, when you move up (to a higher division), it will likely take time (to settle into a consistent winning groove), but I always have high expectations,” Sien said. “No matter what, you should be competitive. You will always get my respect if you’re competitive.”

Sien has experience to fall back on in populating rosters from small numbers and then gleaning results. His 2003 Kankakee squad featured only one returning player and 11 newcomers but gelled to hold the nation’s top spot for a portion of that season.

Sien has logged 31 seasons in the collegiate coaching ranks (Gary Sien's NJCAA volleyball coaching career, by season). He was a head coach in 29 of those years. In addition to the 16 seasons as the women’s volleyball coach at Kankakee, he has put in nine years as a men’s volleyball coach and six years as a women’s coach at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) level, as well as four seasons leading a National Christian College Athletic Association program.

“I’m very appreciative of (VU Athletic Director) Coach (Harry) Meeks, (VU Assistant Provost for Student Affairs) Lynn White and the search committee for giving me this opportunity,” Sien said. “I’m excited to get started and see how it comes together for the season. I’m really looking forward to the new challenge.”
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The Vincennes University Athletic Department hosts Play4Kay and raises donations for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund annually. VU Women’s Basketball Coach and Athletic Director Harry Meeks has a special connection to the late Yow, who was the longtime coach at North Carolina State. He had the pleasure of meeting her while he was an assistant coach at Western Carolina University. This left a lasting impression on him and made this cause important to him and the Trailblazers.

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