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Juniata Men's Volleyball Coach Resigns

(Posted April 29, 2002)

Huntingdon, Pa. - Ryan Patton, who has been the head coach of the men's volleyball program at Juniata College for the past six seasons and has been involved with the program for 11 consecutive years, has decided to resign from his position, according to Director of Athletics Larry Bock and Patton.

Patton's wife, Jenell, who is currently the Director of Service Learning and Volunteer Programs on College Hill, was recently offered and she accepted the Director of Service Learning position at Messiah College. She will begin her post on July 1, 2002 and the couple is planning on relocating to the Messiah area, which is approximately an hour and 45 minutes from the Juniata campus. Patton and his wife thought about residing somewhere in the middle of the two colleges for a long time, but he decided that the travel back and forth to Juniata would only hurt the program and not help it.

"There are two things that I am the most concerned about in my life and they are my family and the Juniata volleyball program," said Patton. "This program deserves more than a coach who would just be try to hold on to a great job while living a great distance from Juniata. I did not want to be greedy. I want what is best for this program and the best thing for it, is a coach that can give it the attention and commitment that it deserves, not a coach who would be tired some days and just want to get practice over with and get home. To be honest, though, this is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make."

Patton, who graduated from Juniata in 1994 and was a three-year member of the men's volleyball team on College Hill from 1992-94, completed his sixth year as the mentor of the team this past Saturday, when the Eagles lost at Division I George Mason, 3-0, in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) Division I Quarterfinals. In 2002, the blue and gold squad went 9-14 overall to bring his career coaching mark to 80-81, a record that has come against primarily upper-division competition. He will leave Juniata ranked second on the all-time men's volleyball coaching wins list behind Bock, who won 100 matches during his six-year run (1990-95).

In 1997, Patton's first year at the helm, he guided the blue and gold high-netters to a 20-10 overall record, a third-place finish at both the EIVA and Molten Division III championships, and an appearance in the EIVA Division I Quarterfinals. Although the Eagles did not accomplish everything that they wanted to, Patton was instrumental in moving the program closer to the elite of the Division III ranks.

In 1998, Patton took Juniata to the elite in Division III by guiding the Eagles to College Hill's first-ever national championship in a team sport with a first-place finish at the Molten Division III championship. Juniata posted a 13-16 overall record, won the EIVA Division III crown and made its second straight appearance in the EIVA Division I playoffs under Patton. In addition, he was named the EIVA Division III Coach of the Year that season.

In 1999, he guided Juniata to a 14-13 overall record and the EIVA Division III Championship. In addition, Patton led the Eagles to their third straight EIVA Division I playoffs and the club advanced to the Division I semifinals for the first time in the history of the program. It was also the only time in the history of the Division I championship that a Division III program earned a trip to the semifinal round.

In the 2000 season, he led Juniata to an 11-15 overall mark and its fourth straight trip to the EIVA Division I playoffs. Juniata was also second at the EIVA Division III Championship.

A year ago, Patton and Company produced a 13-13 record and qualified for both the EIVA Division I and Division III post-season.

Overall with Patton in charge, Juniata won one national championship (Molten) and two EIVA Division III crowns, and earned a spot in the EIVA Division I tourney all six years.

"When I look back at what we were able to accomplish during my time, I am proud of a lot of things," said Patton. "The thing that I am the most proud of though is that we have treated this program like a Division I operation. A lot of volleyball teams that are Division III programs, treat themselves that way and act like they do not belong on the court with the upper-division teams. It is not a knock against Division III squads. What we were able to do was convince ourselves that we belonged on the court with any team, including Penn State, Ohio State and George Mason to name just a few. We never backed down and we made teams play hard against us."

Prior to becoming the head coach, he posted two years as an assistant coach with the Eagle men's program. While serving as an assistant, he helped guide Juniata to an 11-17 "rebuilding" mark in 1995 and an impressive 18-7 overall record in 1996 along with the number-one ranking in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III poll during the regular season. The Eagles finished second in the AVCA rating after taking the runner-up spot at the EIVA Division III championship.

As a player, Patton was a regular force in the middle for Juniata from 1992 through 1994. As a senior, he led the team in aces and solo blocks. He ranked sixth in the nation that spring in service aces per game (0.567). Patton was second in the Juniata stats in 1993 and 1994 in total blocks with 123 and 70, respectively.

"I've had a pretty good run with Juniata and in 11 years, I have only missed two matches," commented Patton. "I was sick during my playing career in 1992 and stayed home from a match at Ohio State. The other match that I missed came during the 1995 season when I had to take the women's program at Juniata to a spring tournament down at Lebanon Valley."

Patton, who is a native of Meadville, Pa., worked as an assistant with the women's program from 1994 through 2000. During that time, the Juniata women went 266-36, won seven straight conference championships and advanced to the NCAA Division III semifinal/final round six times and finished as the runner-up two times (1996 and 1997).

There is one thing that Patton is sure about what his future holds.

"I'll obviously be looking for some kind of job," said Patton. "One thing is for sure though I'm going to play. I always tell people that one of my favorite things about volleyball is that you can play for a long, long time. I've played maybe 60 minutes total of real volleyball during my professional life at Juniata. I just didn't have time with coaching as independent ball is played in the spring. I don't know with who I am going to play, but I'm going to play somewhere."

Juniata will begin a search immediately for a men's volleyball head coach.

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.