Bob Verhayden has stepped down as the varsity girls’ volleyball coach at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School in order to fulfill a dream.
The head men’s volleyball coach at The Sage Colleges was hired late last week to take charge of its women’s program, too. The move will coincide with Verhayden’s retirement in August after serving 37 years as an auditor for the state.
“The timing was right,” Verhayden, who led the Bishop Gibbons varsity for eight years, said. “I’ve always wanted to be a full-time college coach. I was looking, and Sage was aware of it.”
Verhayden will replace Sandy Augstein-Collins at Sage, with Augstein-Collins leaving that post to take the Gators’ director of athletics position. Verhayden will direct the Sage women in the fall season when the Section II girls also compete.
“It was hard telling the kids and some of the parents,” Verhayden said. “There are three seniors on the team who were with me for a long time.”
Verhayden’s Golden Knights put together a 125-50 record, qualified for the Section II tournament in each of his eight years, and reached the sectional Class B semifinals in each of his last six years. His teams featured many all-stars and a trio of league most valuable players in Caroline Bouchard, Sarah Del Vecchio and Julie Nichols.
“I’m proud of what we achieved, and I’m proud of our girls,” said Verhayden, whose first two ND-BG teams went 7-12 and 8-10 before a string of six winning campaigns. “They represented the school well. I remember when we were the team getting thumped, and by the end we had turned it around and did some thumping ourselves. The whole time our girls were a classy act.”
Verhayden began preparing ND-BG’s athletes for varsity-level play before they got there, which was among the many keys to the Golden Knights’ fine run with the Shenendehowa High School and SUNY Oswego graduate.
“I always made it a point when we played [regular season] tournaments to bring up some JV players and get them in there,” Verhayden said. “At the end of the year I also brought younger kids up as a reward and to look at what was coming up next for them. That helped the next year.”
Bishop Gibbons went 22-3 and won the last Big 10 championship in 2013, and as an independent in 2014 put together an 18-4 mark. In 2015 the Golden Knights claimed the Western Athletic Conference East Division title and went 23-4, and in 2016 they went 19-4 and captured the WAC regular season flag after the league went to one division.
“The kids bought into it,” Verhayden said. “They started playing in the summer league. Some girls started playing club. Once you start having success, kids come to you. You don’t have to chase kids down. It builds on its own.”
In recent years Bishop Gibbons added a modified volleyball team to feed its JV and varsity teams.
“We never had the numbers,” Verhayden said. “Now we do. And we’re age-appropriate. Before we’d have seventh, eight and ninth-graders on our junior varsity, and they played a lot.”
Verhayden has done a lot in his volleyball career as a player, referee, scorekeeper and coach, which includes two years as an assistant at ND-BG.
“Sage is fortunate to hire an outstanding individual and team player such as Bob Verhayden as our next women’s volleyball coach,” Augstein-Collins said. “Bob has a multitude of experience at the club, high school and collegiate levels and his transition should be seamless.”
Verhayden had a three-year stint in charge of the Scotia-Glenville High School boys and another three-year run with the Fulton-Montgomery Community College women, and was the men’s assistant coach at Sage for two years before taking the lead position.
“I love that level of play. As good as the high school game is, college is that much better,” Verhayden said. “We’d have team meals [while at ND-BG] and then go to watch a college match. I’d tell the girls, ‘That’s what we’re striving for.’ ”
Verhayden’s first Sage women’s team will include ND-BG graduate Lauren Ferrucci and several others from Section II schools.
“We’ve got a lot of talent,” Verhayden said. “I am rejuvenated by the opportunity that has been bestowed on me. I can’t wait to jump in with both feet.”
Kelsey Hart, who led the ND-BG JV during Verhayden’s time with the varsity, will take over the vacated position.
“She is great with instruction and the girls really like her,” Verhayden said of Hart, a Schalmont High School graduate. “I give her a lot of credit for my success. When the kids got to my team they were ready to play.”