KANSAS CITY, Mo. – ORU volleyball graduate assistant coach Frank Craig was recognized by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) as one of its 10 recipients for the Diversity Awards program.
The Diversity Awards program is the next phase in the evolution of the organization's diversity initiatives and minority coach development programming. Since 2002, the AVCA has been intentional in fostering diversity initiatives and minority coach development programming designed to assist ethnic minority coaches in gaining access to the volleyball coaching profession and advance in their coaching careers.
"Over the last three years, I have seen tremendous growth in his coaching abilities," ORU head coach Sheera Sirola said. "He is more vocal and taken on a more active role with our program, while understanding what an important part he is to the staff. Frank is vital to our overall success for his work developing our leaders with their goal setting and because of his leadership nature is pushing them to be prepared for life after graduation."
Craig has been with the Golden Eagles for three seasons and helped guide ORU to its first postseason appearance since 2006 with a spot in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship last month following a second-place finish in The Summit League.
The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) is dedicated to placing coaches at the epicenter of leadership, advocacy, and professional development. The AVCA Diversity Awards are a tangible example of the value placed on assisting aspiring coaches, advancing the coaching profession for the next generation of coaches, and promoting inclusiveness within the sport of volleyball.
The recipients are awarded complimentary registration to the AVCA Convention and five nights of lodging at the AVCA Convention headquarters hotel. The Diversity Development Team oversees the review of the submissions and the selection of award winners. The recipients will have an agenda of coaching education programming, mentoring, and networking functions specifically targeted to them during their time at the convention. These sessions will be facilitated by veteran volleyball coaches and industry leaders. The objective of these sessions being to provide relevant and timely information and best practices to empower and assist in the recipients' development as on-court tacticians and off-the-court managers and mentors.
The overarching objective of this program is to integrate each of the selected recipients into a career trajectory of sustained engagement in the larger volleyball community that includes demonstrated involvement with their national coaches' association (the AVCA) and a commitment to continuous learning and professional development that results in being teachers and champions of the game. It is important that as a result of this program the sport see tangible and quantitative evidence of the increase in opportunities for ethnic minorities at all levels of the sport (notably "A5" and NCAA D-I women's volleyball programs) to experience successful and enjoyable coaching careers.
"2017 brought the deepest pool of talented aspiring coaches in the history of the award," said AVCA Diversity Development Team Chair and Butler University Head Coach Sharon Clark. "The Diversity Team had a tough task during the selection process with so many worthy candidates. We are thrilled with this year's awardees and look forward to them experiencing an informative and invigorating convention."
2017 AVCA DIVERSITY AWARD RECIPIENTS
Frank Craig is a graduate assistant at Oral Roberts University. Following an AVCA All-American career at the NAIA's Lourdes University, he now helps the Golden Eagles as a recruiting coordinator and with day-to-day volleyball operations. He is currently pursuing a Leadership Master of Business Administration degree, and is set to graduate next spring.
Noel Carpio is a manager for the University of Arizona Beach and Indoor Volleyball teams in addition to serving as a coach at the Southern Arizona Volleyball Academy. He was part of the program that went to the first ever NCAA Beach Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala. in 2016. He also was the Assistant Tournament Director for the PAC-12 Beach Volleyball Championships hosted at The University of Arizona. Now in his third year at SAVA, he has helped the club become one of the best in the area, leading the 16 National Team and serving as the as the Technical Advisor.
Sid Davidson is a head coach at. St. John Bosco High School (Bellflower, CA) and the owner and director of the Akamai Volleyball Club. He has a long history as an educator and coach, having taught at St. John Bosco High School since 2003 in Physical Education. However, Davidson is more than just a long-time coach, he's a winner. His high school squad has made many playoffs appearance in the CIF Division I Southern Section, and in both 2006 and 2007 took home the Long Beach Press Telegram Dream Team Coach of the Year.
Alejandro Gonzalez is a volunteer assistant at Minnesota State University, Mankato. While with the Mavericks, he assists with team individual drills, and coordinates video during practice and matches. He continues to be a coach at Southern Extreme Volleyball Club, and once spent time as a grad assistant at South Dakota State University.
Carrie Gurnell is an assistant coach at Gardner-Webb University, assisting in all aspects of the NCAA Division I program. She has a ton of playing experience after a career at Purdue University followed by a three-year professional career in Austria. On the sidelines, she has spent seven years coaching on the youth circuit at various clubs, and even taught volleyball in Austrian public schools while playing.
Thanh Harnish is a head coach at Munciana Volleyball Club. Now in her 13th year, she coaches the 13 Open Kunoichis, and led them to bronze in last year's AAU's. "She is truly interested in helping young female athletes pursue their goals. She instills good training habits and a real competitive spirit in her players," said Munciana Co-Director Wes Lyon.
Victoria Hurtt is an assistant coach Indiana Wesleyan University. She joined the Wildcats after a prolific Iowa State career that saw her take home AVCA All-Region honors in 2012 and 2014 (played professionally in the Philippines). Leading the hitter training and development, and helping create practice plans are just a few of her responsibilities at the NAIA school.
Ciara Jones is the Director of Volleyball Operations at Clemson University. This marks her first year in college volleyball since her playing days at Marquette University. Prior to 2017, she was the head volleyball coach at Edgewater High School (Orlando, FL) where she rattled off three district championships from 2014-2016 capped by a 2016 Metro Coach of the Year award. She has the ability to relate to her players like few can, tapping into her experience as a former player at a high level, and district-winning coach.
Christian Staple is in his first season as an assistant men's and women's coach at McKendree University. Even though Staple is still in his 20's, he has the kind of experience more resembling a season veteran. His resume as a boy's and men's coach extends through club, the NCAA, and USA Volleyball until now making his first stint at the NCAA Division II level. His time at the AVCA Convention will certainly accelerate his knowledge as he continues to grow as a volleyball coach.
Julian Welsh-White is volunteer assistant at the University of South Carolina. An NCAA Champion and AVCA All-American while at Division III's Springfield College, Welsh-White is a proven winner. His experience on the court and sidelines at the club, high school, and collegiate level makes him one of the great young coaches in the game today.
For the latest information on ORU Volleyball, follow the Golden Eagles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or go to www.ORUAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading two mobile apps, ORU Golden Eagles Live and ORU Front Row, available on the App Store and Google Play.