Now in his seventh year at the helm of Utah State volleyball, head coach Grayson DuBose has committed himself entirely to building the program to the successful one it is today.
Entering Thursday's home match against Seattle at 7 p.m. at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, DuBose is just one win away from breaking the 100-win milestone. While he is quick to try and change the subject if you bring it up, it is an achievement worth celebrating.
“I’ve loved my time at Utah State, and I hope to be here for a long, long time. None of these things come without good players and good assistant coaches,” DuBose said. “I’m happy to be here and feel fortunate just to have been a part of it.”
DuBose took over the Utah State program in 2006 and currently stands as both the second-longest tenured coach and second-winningest coach. Marilyn McReavy and Mary Jo Peppler led the team from 1976-81, taking away 209 wins.
“It’s taken longevity. You have to be in a place for a little while,” DuBose said about reaching the 100-win plateau. “This is the longest I’ve coached at one place, and I feel fortunate to have been here that long.”
DuBose started his coaching career as an assistant at Brighton High School in Salt Lake City. He spent a year at Utah State as Tom Peterson’s assistant and then a year at the University of New Mexico. Prior to coming back to Utah State, he was the assistant coach for the men’s volleyball team at his alma mater, BYU.
Since returning to Logan, DuBose has an overall winning record of 99-93 and is looking to break the 100 mark as the team hosts Seattle this Thursday night. On top of the collection of wins, DuBose has coached two All-Americans, Amanda Nielson and Liz McArthur, 15 all-Western Athletic Conference honorees, 39 academic all-WAC players and six academic all-district recipients.
Those academic acknowledgements are something DuBose’s team members have said he's helped them acheive.
“Grayson isn’t necessarily lenient, but he’s a very understanding coach. If you’re behind in school or need to study for a test and miss practice, then he's understanding about it and will work with you about it,” senior setter Kassi Hargrove said. “He’s for sure more of the student part of student-athlete.”
Other players agree that it is more than just a game for DuBose.
“It’s not just about the game, but who’s playing. It doesn’t matter if you’re a starter or a redshirt. He cares about everyone. I’ve really grown to appreciate that,” senior outside hitter Josselyn White said. “More than anything he has helped us become better people, more so than anything volleyball can do for us.”
In 2010, DuBose led the Aggies to one of the most successful wins in school history. With a win over nationally-ranked Hawai’i in the WAC Tournament, the team advanced to the NCAA Tournament for just the fourth time. The team finished the year with a 24-9 record.
“Winning the WAC championship and beating Hawai’i was a great day to be working with him,” assistant coach Taubi Neves said. “I loved seeing him sitting on the bench just smiling and enjoying the moment.”
While DuBose is quick to give credit to his assistant coaches, Jeremiah Larsen and Neves, they are quick to turn it around and recognize the talent he has.
“I think Grayson is one of the best volleyball coaching minds in the country. He understands the game and he works hard. It’s not something that comes naturally to anyone, but he comes in and works at it. He comes in every day and busts his hump to work hard for everybody, “ Larsen said. “Because of his hard work and his work ethic, I think he is one of the better coaches in the college game.”
The success the Utah State program has seen over the last few years has made the experience a great one for everyone involved. As this year’s seniors get ready to leave USU, they are appreciative of the things they have learned from DuBose and the contributions they have been able to make.
“I really didn’t know he was this close to this milestone. It’s cool to be a part of that,” White said. “I’d like to think that our group of girls have helped him get there and have helped him be successful. It’s cool to see that manifest. When he first got here he had to really try to build the team. It’s exciting and I’m very happy for him.”
Shay Sorensen, a senior opposite side hitter, said she has constantly been impressed by DuBose’s commitment to the game and the team.
“I am honored to be part of Grayson’s 100th win. It is a testament to his hard work and dedication to USU volleyball. He has been an awesome coach and I’m so glad I got to spend my college career working with him,” Sorensen said. “I have grown not only in my volleyball skills, but life skills as well because of him.”
DuBose’s humility has played a vital role in his success as a coach. He is not one to willingly accept the credit and attention for the way the program is run.
“I’ve had good players who have worked hard and bought into a system. Every day they come out and compete and work hard. We push them and make it uncomfortable for them, but they keep grinding,” DuBose said. “I like who I get to work with. I work with quality student-athletes who are excited to be here and who think it’s important to be an Aggie.”
As he works toward the next win to bump him over the 100-mark, DuBose doesn’t think anything of it. He loves his job and the people he has the opportunity to work with.
“It’s a wonderful thing we have going here at Utah State,” DuBose said. “Being able to be a part of this program is sure something special for me.”
While he may not say it outright, those close to DuBose know the love and respect he has for the program. They know he is proud of the organization he has built and that he will continue to strive for success.
“It’s a huge honor for me to be a part of this legacy that Grayson has built with this program,” Sorensen said. “I know it means a lot to him even though he may not come out and say it.”
Utah State takes a 7-4 overall record into Thursday's WAC match-up with Seattle. USU is 2-0 in WAC play for the first time since 2007 and will be going for its first 3-0 conference start since 2005. Seattle is 6-6 overall and 1-1 in WAC play in its first year as a member of the WAC, as the Redhawks lost their inaugural WAC match to New Mexico State in five sets on Sept. 13 before bouncing back to beat Denver in five on Sept. 15.
After Thursday's match, USU continues it short homestand by hosting Idaho on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Utah State volleyball tickets are available by contacting the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.
Megan Allen is a member of the USU Athletic Media Relations.