GVSU volleyball coach sets program win mark

GVL / Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye

Alex Eisen

Unnoticed for a quite some time in the concourse of Fieldhouse Arena is a poster of Grand Valley State’s volleyball “Laker Legends.” Included on this poster is current head coach Deanne Scanlon with the caption, “All-Time Leader in Coaching Wins.”

Once a misprint that never got fixed, the description now holds true.

With the victory over Ashland in the first round of the GLIAC tournament, Scanlon celebrated a milestone moment, notching her 546th win to surpass former head coach Joan Boand for the most wins in program history.

“It overwhelmed me in the moment,” Scanlon said. “It’s hard for me to reflect on these kinds of things, but it kind of got me very emotional.”

The accomplishment is undoubtedly an honor, but Scanlon said before the match it’s something she will begin to cherish more when she is finished coaching.

“It’s hard for me to be in the moment and realize the magnitude of something like this,” Scanlon said. “Maybe in my old age I’ll be able to start telling stories about it.”

In the 46-year history of GVSU volleyball, Scanlon and Boand have been the only two coaches to roam the sidelines, guiding the Lakers to 1,091 program victories.

Scanlon needed 21 seasons to move past Boand’s illustrious mark of 545 career wins. Scanlon reaching that milestone didn’t come as any surprise to Boand.

“Records are made to be broken and I expected it to be broken,” Boand said. “(Scanlon) is a much better coach than I ever was. She is much more knowledgeable about the game.

“When I started, my volleyball background was not a lot.”

Inducted into GVSU’s Hall of Fame in 2004 as a pioneer of women’s athletics at the university, Boand held coaching positions in four women’s sports during her tenure: volleyball, track and field, softball and volleyball.

Boand coached volleyball from 1969 to 1994, and started the program from scratch.

“We had people come out and try to play that never played before. That’s where it started,” Boand said. “As the years progressed, the high schools got better and there were better players out there. The very good high school teams (today) probably play better than any of my teams had to play (against).”

When Scanlon took over in 1995, she gradually built upon the foundation laid by Boand to construct a national championship-caliber program.

Under Scanlon’s command, the Lakers have never endured a losing season. The most memorable season came in 2005, when GVSU captured its first and only the Division II National Championship. Scanlon was subsequently named AVCA National Coach of the Year.

Boand knew from early on that Scanlon had something special about her.

“When I first saw Deanne, she was an assistant at Wayne State,” Boand said. “Their coach, he was so-so, but when she came along, the whole team changed. (Scanlon) left for awhile as she had a baby and it was easy going against Wayne State. Then, she came back and it became tougher (again).”

Scanlon credits a large portion of her success to the university allowing her to be family-oriented first.

“You can’t sustain a high-level program unless you are getting support from the university and by the athletic department,” Scanlon said. “I feel like I was able to be a great mom and be present with my children and do things with them. I never really felt like I had to comprise that.

“I couldn’t come in the gym miserable because I couldn’t be a good mom,” she said. “It would have torn me apart. To be able to marry both of those things together has made all the difference in the world.”

With her children all grown up, graduated from college and moved on with their lives, Scanlon finds herself in unfamiliar territory.

“This is the first time, these last couple of years, that I’ve had just my career to focus on,” Scanlon said. “It’s new, it’s refreshing and it’s allowing me to get my mom fix by being around these guys, because my kids aren’t around all the time.”

Scanlon’s players have noticed, and have plenty of memories to share about their head coach that goes beyond the game of volleyball, with her dance moves being mentioned repeatedly.

“My sophomore year, we were up at Northern Michigan and she made a challenge for us,” said senior Betsy Ronda. “If we did it then she would have to drop it low and dance, so it was just kind of a funny thing to see her get silly with us.”

Senior Kourtney Wolters shared a similar experience.

“We had a preseason trip and she was being herself,” Wolters said. “She always has that signature dance move which is great. She knows how to let loose, but she also knows how to get things done.”

While Scanlon will downplay the significance of the milestone in the moment, the success and influence she has had with the program shouldn’t go unnoticed, much like the misprinted poster in Fieldhouse Arena.