Profile: Sally Kus
Kus Trying to Apply Winning Formula at UB
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When referring to the women's volleyball team, the first thing that comes to mind in the eyes of many students, is the 46-game Mid-American Conference losing streak dating back to the 2000 campaign.
Head Coach Sally Kus, however, has a little streak of her own. Her varsity volleyball team at nearby Sweet Home High School set the national record for consecutive wins in any high school team sport with 292, a streak spanning 10 years from 1978-1987. The sport was one that Kus initially knew nothing about and was reluctant to coach.
"I was a fourth year teacher at Sweet Home Middle School, when Bob Barczak, the Athletic Director at Sweet Home, asked me if I would coach volleyball for him," said Kus. "I really wanted to coach basketball and there were no other openings. I felt that the one year I played (volleyball) in college was so stupid."
During Kus' inaugural season as volleyball coach her team finished 8-6 despite her limited knowledge of the game. She had her players go to volleyball camp and take part in the Empire State Games. Gradually she started getting results.
"We got successful and all of a sudden we started breaking records," said Kus.
Kus became so involved with the game that she started the Cheetah Junior Olympic Development Program to perpetuate the growth of volleyball in Western New York. A number of those teams have been very successful on a national level.
Kus joined the UB athletic staff after four wonderful seasons at Daemen College, an NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) conference school where she posted a 27-9 record overall and a 19-4 conference mark last season. Her merits include being named Conference Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2000, while coaching 13 All-Conference players, two Conference Freshman of the Years, three All-Region selections, one All-American, and three Scholastic All-Americans during her tenure.
Kus was initially offered the women's volleyball job at UB seven years ago by former Athletic Director Nelson Townson, and again three years later by current director Bob Arkeilpane. Both times her obligation as a full time teacher prevented her from taking the job. She was not close enough to retirement at the time to accept the position.
"It was always very attractive for me to come to UB. I basically watched the whole campus grow," said Kus. "I wanted to be a part of the university, I just couldn't figure out how to do it."
Coach Kus attended and graduated from the University of Akron as a four-year letterwoman in varsity basketball as well as doing a one-year stint on the field hockey team. During her senior year the school developed a varsity volleyball team and Sally quickly joined, having never played before that time.
"As a person my age I didn't get the benefits of Title IX," added Kus. "Growing up my brother was my hero, and I was such a tomboy and nowadays I would be a female athlete."
Coach Kus acknowledges the fact that a lot of work still needs to be done, but has been very pleased with the progress that has been made this season, especially in the last two weeks. She attributes the team's early season success to good team chemistry and consistency in play.
"We have gained confidence this year. Last year we would have done something and we would have lost," said Kus. "This year there has been some inconsistent pitiful play like a 'deer in headlights' but the last four matches have been awesome. Team chemistry has improved tremendously."
Her coaching philosophy is centered on the concept of having fun and enjoying the game of volleyball.
"Always be a student of the game. I try to teach the tactical and technical aspects of volleyball in a fun manner," said Kus.
In addition to her numerous accolades, the National Women's Sports Foundation named Sally Kus Coach of the Year in 1993, and she was inducted into the National Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1996, receiving the inaugural Minonette Medallion of Merit Award for her contributions to the sport.
She was also inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 1997, and is also a USA Volleyball National Coaching Accreditation Program Clinician.
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