When Bob Verhayden played his high school volleyball at Shenendehowa in the mid-1970s, his coach was Gene Stefanacci, who is more well-known for his standout work with the Plainsmen football team.
“He was Brent Steuerwald’s defensive coordinator for all those great teams,” Verhayden said, before adding with a chuckle. “I had a lot of defensive linemen as teammates.”
Verhayden is working these days with guys who can jump a lot higher and are allowed to use their hands as The Sage Colleges’ assistant volleyball coach.
He gained the position in December and started early last month, following his most successful season in charge of the Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School girls’ team.
“I’m still coaching the girls. Working with the college team won’t interfere at all because they’re different seasons,” Verhayden said. “I thought it would be a lot of fun.”
Verhayden is coaching at the collegiate level for the second time. He spent three seasons with the Fulton-Montgomery Community College women, and in his last campaign guided the Raiders to the 1997 Mountain Valley Conference championship.
He spent three seasons in charge of the Scotia-Glenville High School boys’ team before his run at FMCC, and has served as a regional referee and scorekeeper for USA volleyball.
“I have a lot of experience. A lot of court knowledge,” said Verhayden. “I’m a second set of eyes.”
Verhayden said he wasn’t actively seeking a second coaching gig when he happened upon the Sage position.
“I was looking at their website for one of my girls, checking out their sports program, and I saw that they had an opening,” said the Oswego graduate, who works as an auditor for the state. “I thought about it, and then I reached out.”
Jimmy Pompeo is in his first year as Sage’s head coach. He was an assistant last year at Kean University, which beat out Sage for the Skyline Conference regular-season title and topped the Gators in the league tournament final. Afterward, Sage was invited to the ECAC Division III North tournament for the first time and ended a 30-7 season by winning it.
“He [Pompeo] played at Kean before he coached there. He brings a working knowledge of the league,” said Verhayden.
The Sage roster has 10 players from the Capital Region including Zach Sullivan (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake), Robert Ainsworth (Saratoga Springs), Zachary Kuhn (Columbia) and Connor Thompson (Christian Brothers Academy).
“We’ve got eight seniors, so we’ll need to fill a lot of spots,” said Verhayden. “I’ve already done some recruiting.”
Verhayden has led the Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons varsity for five seasons after two with the school’s JV. This past season, the Golden Knights beat Albany in a playoff for the Big 10 championship, reached the Section II Class B semifinals and finished with a 22-3 record.