|Previous College:||Pittsburgh '84|
Barry Goldberg, the coach who has built a Patriot League dynasty by winning the league championship 15 of the last 17 years, didn’t begin his volleyball career with a bang. He was cut from his team as a freshman both in high school and as a player at the University of Pittsburgh, and before his senior season the program was dropped entirely by the Panthers. Luckily for American, Goldberg has always thrived on challenges.
The seven-time Patriot League (2001, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016), three-time Colonial Athletic Association (1990, 1997, 2000) and 2013 AVCA East Region Coach of the Year’s record speaks for itself:
• 234-14 (.944) Patriot League record over 17 years
• 730 career wins, 14th active D1 coach to earn 700 wins with a single program
• .740 career winning percentage (730-257 to begin 2018)
• 17 NCAA Tournament appearances in the last 21 years
• Conference championships in 18 of the last 20 years
• Two NCAA Tournament victories in 2013, first in program and Patriot League history, en route to the Sweet Sixteen
Indeed, in the past 17 years of league play, the Eagles have lost only 14 matches. Yet the man who has come to epitomize American volleyball was not recruited as a player out of Peabody High School in Pittsburgh, Pa. In college, he joined the team at Pitt as a walk-on, and after getting cut as a freshman, he thought his playing days were over. But a call from the coach, inviting him to join the team as its 10th man, brought him back to the court. Goldberg worked hard in practice but rode the bench until the season was nearly over. Then he got his chance. Faced with player absences because of final exams, Goldberg’s coach had no choice. He was forced to use the 10th man.
Goldberg outplayed the other starters and earned a spot on the team. From then on he started at middle blocker for the Panthers. His junior year, the team he captained was ranked No. 13 in the nation. As it turned out, though, 13 was an unlucky number: At the end of the season, Pitt cut the varsity men’s volleyball program.
Undeterred, as a senior Goldberg worked as a player/coach for the club team. After graduating from Pitt with a bachelor’s degree in communication and rhetoric, and while pursuing his master’s in counseling education, he became assistant coach for the Pitt women’s varsity team.
A History of Success
Goldberg begins the 2018 season among the top Division I coaches nationally, both on active and all-time lists.
• All-Divisions (Active Coaches) - 16th with 730 victories.
• Division I (All-Time) - 19th with .740 winning pct., 23rd with 730 victories
• Division I (Active) - 12th with .740 winning pct., 9th with 730 victories
The same determination that drove him to persevere at Pitt continues today. The 2017 Eagles went 15-1 in the Patriot League and finished 26-8 overall. The Eagles, led by Patriot League Player of the Year Aleksandra Kazala, went to the NCAA Tournament, where they lost in the first round at 7th-ranked Brigham Young. A home sweep of the PL Tournament gave Goldberg a 32-2 record in the PL postseason.
In the 2016 season, Goldberg guided the team to a 27-8 overall record, with a 15-1 record in conference play. The team went on to clinch their 14th Patriot League Tournament title and 16th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, led by Patriot League Player of the Year, Aleksandra Kazala.
Goldberg’s 2014 squad posted a 26-7 overall record and won the Patriot League regular-season title with a 15-1 mark. The Eagles went on to claim their 12th PL Tournament title, led by Patriot League Player of the Year Monika Smidova, who also repeated as the PL Setter of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Smidova, who went on to earn AVCA All-Region honors, was joined on the All-Patriot League first team by Allison Cappellino and Kelly McCaddin. Also earning all-league recognition was Kristyna Lindovska, who was selected to the second team.
In 2013, Goldberg led the Eagles to a historic run which saw the team match program records for wins (34) and losses (3), dropping just 22 sets all year. American opened the campaign with its best start in program history, registering 10 straight wins, and carried the momentum into the Patriot League season, winning the regular season with a 15-1 mark. The Eagles swept through the conference tournament to win its 11th Patriot League title and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time in 17 years. American headed to Durham, N.C., to take on Georgia and No. 14 Duke, winning both matches 3-0 for its first NCAA Tournament wins in program history. The Eagles advanced to the round of 16 in Lincoln, Neb., and faced top-seeded Texas. American won the first set, 26-24, but was unable to take down the Longhorns as it fell, 3-1. The year was capped off with the team's first ranking in program history as the Eagles finished out the season at No. 19 in the AVCA Coaches Poll.
Lindovska was honored as an AVCA All-Region Team selection as Smidova was named the Patriot League Setter and Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Lindovska and senior Julie Crum joined Smidova on the All-Patriot League First Team and senior Morgan Hendrix and McCaddin earned second-team accolades.
The 2011 season saw Goldberg take a team with just three returning players to its 10th conference championship and 12th NCAA Tournament appearance. He led the team to a 13-1 record in the Patriot League and a 23-11 overall record, earning him his second straight Coach of the Year award. Sara Rishell was just the second player in Patriot League history to be named the Player and Rookie of the Year in the same season, also being recognized as an AVCA All-Region Honorable Mention.
In 2010 he led the team to a perfect 14-0 record in the Patriot League, and a 29-3 overall record, earning him his third Coach of the Year honor. The Eagles held a 2-1 lead over No. 9 UCLA during their 11th NCAA tournament match, but couldn’t hold on to the lead and fell 3-2 to the Bruins. All of Goldberg’s seniors earned awards during the season, with Angelina Waterman being named to the AVCA All-Region Team and Magdalena Tekiel earning Patriot League Player of the Year honors.
During the 2008 season, Goldberg led the Eagles to their eighth-consecutive Patriot League Championship and finished the year with a 24-9 overall record, 13-1 in conference play, and a 12-1 mark at home. American’s performance was so impressive throughout the year that the team was honored with four PL major awards. Senior Rubena Sukaj was named the Player of the Year for the third straight season while classmate Christina Nash earned her second Setter of the Year honor, junior Ivana Cebakova was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second time and freshman Rebecca Heath garnered Rookie of the Year plaudits.
In 2006, Goldberg coached his way to a second Patriot League Coach of the Year award and his team won its sixth-consecutive league regular season and tournament titles. Despite being a young squad, with just one senior and three juniors, the Eagles were heavy on talent and determination. Led by Sukaj, American recorded a 14-1 record at home in Bender Arena and a 14-0 record against conference opponents. The Eagles played so masterfully during the second half of the season that none of their opponents could manage to win more than one game in any match, a record that stood until they fell to top-ranked Nebraska, 3-1, in the NCAA Tournament.
Because his teams have achieved so much since his arrival, it’s hard to remember what American volleyball was like before Goldberg. Since the day he came on as head coach in 1989, the Eagles have accumulated a 336-64 (.840) record in Bender Arena. He has produced 67 All-Patriot League selections in 17 years and 13 Player of the Year awards among 29 major award winners. The Eagles' dominance in the PL Tournament is witnessed by 15 student-athletes who have been voted the Most Valuable Player in the tournament.
Throughout the years his players have excelled both on and off the court. Since 1995, Goldberg’s teams have averaged above a 3.30 combined grade point average per semester. American volleyball has had six Academic All-America selections, including Smidova, a third-team pick in 2014, and Karla Kucerkova, the CoSIDA Volleyball Academic All-American of the Year in 2002 and 2003. In 2003, American graduate Natalie Hand was awarded a prestigious Marshall Scholarship, which pays for American students to study in Great Britain. Additionally, the Eagles have earned a total of 134 selections to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll, achieving an in-season GPA above 3.2.
In 12 seasons in the Colonial Athletic Association, before American joined the Patriot League, Goldberg coached 36 players to All-CAA teams, including 20 All-CAA First Team selections, two CAA Championships MVP accolades, and a CAA Rookie of the Year winner. Goldberg has also coached three GTE/Academic All-Americans and three American University Student-Athletes of the Year. Five of his student-athletes were also earned Google Cloud Academic All-District recognition from the College Sports Information Directors of America.
A Tradition of Winning
A look back at the Goldberg era of American volleyball shows the same pattern of consistent success:
• In 2004, the Goldberg-led Eagles compiled a 24-7 overall record while staying undefeated in league competition. The Eagles made their fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, and junior Cutrina Biddulph was named the Patriot League Co-Player of the Year and Honorable Mention All-America. Freshman Chelsa Brooks was named the league’s Rookie of the Year. In addition, American was the best-represented school on the All-Patriot League Team with six athletes selected.
• From 2001 to 2003, Karla Kucerkova earned three straight Patriot League Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards. Nationally, she was named Academic All-America Player of the Year twice. The team’s success was almost as brilliant, with victories in 48 straight league matches and trips to three straight NCAA Tournaments.
• In 2000, American competed in its final season in the Colonial Athletic Association before moving to the Patriot League in 2001. Although the switch made the team ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, the Eagles finished 26-4 and had an 11-1 conference record. In its final season in the CAA, the team received many honors, including Goldberg’s third CAA Coach of the Year award. Ajola Berisha, the CAA Player of the Year, was selected as an AVCA Regional All-American, and Judit Szekelyhidi joined her on the CAA First Team.
• In 1999 the Eagles faced six NCAA Championship participants en route to a then American record .288 hitting percentage, placing the Eagles among the top-10 hitting teams in the country. American garnered five postseason awards on its way to a third consecutive CAA Championship match appearance and finished the season ranked regionally for the fourth time in the previous five seasons. The Eagles finished the regular season with a 14-match win streak and posted a school-record 14-1 CAA mark.
• In 1997 the Eagles went 30-4, earning the school’s first NCAA Tournament berth.
• The 1994 season, when the Eagles compiled a 34-8 record that included an unprecedented 23-match winning streak, saw the team’s first postseason competition, at the National Invitational Volleyball Championship. While in Kansas City, American commanded national attention by winning two of its four matches.
The Road to the Top
Such accomplishments would have seemed unlikely, to say the least, when Goldberg graduated from Pitt. He traveled next to Washington, where he coached the Capital Junior Volleyball Club in the District of Columbia and led the Under-18 team to a top-20 finish at the Junior National Championships. All 10 of the players he coached that year went on to receive NCAA Division I scholarships. Seeing his success at that level, Georgetown University hired him as an assistant, where he coached until joining American University to take its program to the next level.
Along the way to the top, Goldberg has worked with several prestigious volleyball camps and committees. In 1997, he was the United States representative, along with the Tampa Bay Juniors Volleyball Club, at a four-nation international camp in Europe. Elite junior national teams from Switzerland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic hosted the camp. During his summers, Goldberg conducts individual and team volleyball camps at American and other locations in the Mid-Atlantic region. He has also held seminars in the National Mizuno Coaching Clinic Series. Goldberg now serves as a voting member of the national AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll and is also a voting member of the All-America committee.
Goldberg lives in Maryland with his wife, Bonnie. The two have three children, Arielle, who played volleyball at the University of the Pacific, Jared, who played volleyball at Grand Canyon University, and Mitchell, who plays lacrosse at Richmond.
Updated: August, 2018