Honoring A Legend

Former volleyball coach Carol Dewey reflects on program history in honor of Alumni Night.

Oct. 25, 2007

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Pop quiz. Which head coach in the history of Purdue women's athletics has won more games ‎than any other? Any Boilermaker fan standing in the IAF would be able to tell you. After all, her ‎legacy still hangs in the rafters overlooking Belin Court. The answer is Carol Dewey, of course.‎

She was named head coach of Purdue's first volleyball team in 1975 and stayed at the helm for ‎‎20 seasons before retiring in 1994. She finished her Boilermaker career with a record of 469-256 ‎‎(.647 winning percentage) and her program was the university's first women's revenue sport by ‎‎1979. That same season, the Boilermakers won their first of four Big Ten Championships, all of ‎which came with Carol Dewey on the sideline.‎

‎"Right from the beginning, you want to always put your best foot forward. They won ‎immediately and they won with outstanding students," Senior Associate Athletics Director ‎Nancy Cross said. "They instantly brought credibility to women's athletics and showed the kind ‎of student-athletes we recruited at Purdue were both great students and great leaders."‎

Dewey's teams also won Big Ten Championships in 1980, 1982, and 1985 and posted a 240-134 ‎record in conference play during her 20 years. She had six 30-win seasons and nine postseason ‎appearances. Those accomplishments earned Dewey a place in both the Purdue Intercollegiate ‎Athletics Hall of Fame (2003) and, most recently, the American Volleyball Coaches Association ‎Hall of Fame (2005).‎

As a coach, Dewey possessed a willingness to try new strategies and stayed on the cutting edge ‎of the sport. One of the innovative tactics she employed was the use of serve blockers in the mid-‎‎1980s.‎

‎"We would position one, two, or three front row blockers at the net and pass with only two or ‎three players," Nancy (Huliba) Kester said. "I don't believe anyone else in the country was doing ‎this and it proved to be very successful for our team."‎

 

 

Kester roamed the sideline with Dewey for 15 years (1980-94) as an assistant coach, following a ‎brief playing career in 1975-1976. She says the three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year (1982, ‎‎1985, 1987) brought aspects of the game to the forefront that had never been experimented with ‎much in the past. She was an innovator.‎

‎"Carol encouraged the use of jump serving, as well, and All-American Marianne Smith ‎embraced the challenge. Marianne was one of the first players in the Big Ten to become very ‎successful with the jump serve," Kester said.‎

Dewey had been working at the Olympic Training Center when she decided to implement the ‎jump serve into her own team. Marianne (Smith) Orr was named an All-American in 1984 and ‎‎1985 in part because her jump serve was so effective. Her 93 ace tally in 1984 still ranks as ‎Purdue's single-season aces record.‎

‎"I can remember at that time she had rules for me. I could only jump serve if we were up four ‎points. If I was tired, I was to use my own judgment. Carol just kept working with me, though. ‎She believed in me, was positive with me, and it worked," Orr said.‎

Dewey also was creative off the court. On October 29, 1985, the Boilermakers set the NCAA ‎women's volleyball attendance record when 10,645 fans poured into Mackey Arena to witness a ‎four-game win over Western Michigan (11-15, 15-6, 15-5, 15-2). She had a helping hand in the ‎planning of Pac Mac, an event that solidified Purdue's status among the national elite.‎

‎"I remember walking down the tunnel and into the gym and the arena was decorated with black ‎and gold balloons. The crowd kept filling in and it was really incredible," Dewey said. "As it ‎turned out, you couldn't have written a better script, because Western Michigan previously had ‎the NCAA attendance record and we were two of the strongest programs in the Midwest. It was a ‎great event and just a thrill for the players to play in front of that kind of a crowd."‎

Cross agreed with that sentiment and said much of the event's success was due to Dewey's effort ‎and creativity.‎

‎"Her program certainly deserved to have every record that was possible, including the attendance ‎record," Cross said. "She was right in there with us trying to come up with very creative ways on ‎a shoestring budget to try to entice people to come and break the record. She took great pleasure ‎in knowing that that was what her program was and that was where her program deserved to be."‎

Dewey coached some of the best volleyball players in program history. Five Boilermakers were ‎named All-Americans under her guidance and 39 players received All-Big Ten honors. Debbie ‎‎(McDonald) West was a three-time All-American (1987-89) and went on to become Purdue's ‎all-time kills leader with 2,108 for her career. She is the only Boilermaker to ever eclipse 2,000 ‎kills.‎

‎"It became a lot of pressure as I got close to 2,000, but Carol really helped me to just stay ‎focused. She told me to play each match at a time. I can remember really working on that, ‎because I was so worried about the milestone, but she helped me through it," West said.‎

Dewey remembers West's offensive arsenal as well as the unique environment in which she ‎reached the milestone.‎

‎"Debbie was such a phenomenal hitter. She was so much fun to watch in competition because ‎she could hit so many shots and nobody could dig her," Dewey said. "The night she achieved the ‎goal, we happened to be on televised on ESPN. I think it was fun for her to get that recognition."‎

With the cameras on and history in the making, it was Dewey who again provided the calming ‎force that her player needed.‎

‎"She had taken me aside before the match and told me to not worry about it," West said. "It was ‎just another match. I only needed to worry about each game and each point. She really helped me ‎stay focused, just like she had many other times before."‎

Dewey also coached six Academic All-Americans and every one of the student-athletes who ‎played four years at Purdue under her watch graduated. She was not just about volleyball. She ‎was about the total package.‎

‎"I think she was just a multi-faceted person," Orr said. "I know that coaches today say they want ‎to know you, but I think Carol really did have a relationship with you and your family. I think ‎she generally cared about you and she knew a lot about you. It wasn't just on the surface."‎

Dewey said making her players well rounded individuals, not just great volleyball players, was ‎all part of the plan. ‎

‎"I definitely wanted it to be a positive total experience for my players, both educationally and ‎athletically," Dewey said. "I certainly encouraged them to be involved on campus. I think it was ‎good that they were involved in some other things and that they were leaders out in the ‎community."‎

The lessons Dewey taught her players not only helped them on the court, but in life beyond ‎collegiate volleyball. ‎

‎"When we were playing, she would have us set goals for ourselves, while also teaching us to ‎manage our busy schedules," West said. "Time management and working towards goals, no ‎matter how small, are things we learned from her. Those are skills I have used ever since, even in ‎my roles as a wife and a mom."‎

Dewey kept everything in perspective for her players. She knew how to have a laugh and she ‎knew how to win. All of those qualities not only grew her professional legacy, but they endeared ‎her to Boilermaker fans all over. To this day, she still carries Purdue with her wherever she goes.‎

‎"I miss the competition and the relationships with the players. I loved watching them grow and ‎mature through playing the sport," Dewey, who now makes a living as a bank loan officer, said. ‎‎"It was such a great experience for me to be involved with so many great players at a world-class ‎university. I'm excited to see the program continue to grow."‎

So, next time you are in the IAF, look up at those Big Ten Championship banners. Think about ‎all those wins Carol Dewey racked up during the course of her career. Remember the names of ‎all of those All-Americans she coached. More importantly, however, think about the vast impact ‎she had on Purdue University. Indeed, she was a legend.‎

Hall of Fame coach Carol Dewey and several former players will be recognized at Alumni Night festivities on Saturday.

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