Voted on by the league’s coaches, the honor is Gooden’s second during his 10-year tenure at NIU.
Last time the Evanston, Ill., native earned the league’s top coach recognition, he had to share it with Ohio’s Geoff Carlston in 2006.
This time, Gooden stands alone as the third coach in NIU history to garner the accolade from the MAC – Pete Waite won in 1997 and Todd Kress in 2001. Overall, it is the sixth conference Coach of the Year award earned by an NIU head coach – Pete Waite won Mid-Continent Conference Coach of the Year in 1992 and 1993.
“To be named Coach of the Year by conference to me means that I work with a great staff, that we have amazing players, and also have tremendous support from family, friends, and support staff,” said Gooden, who is second all-time at NIU in wins (183). “For those reasons, I am thankful and gladly accept this award as a representative of the NIU volleyball program.”
The season that Gooden and the Huskies have put together thus far is simply outstanding.
With a 14-2 record in MAC regular season play, NIU was crowned MAC West Division champions for the first time since 2006 and MAC regular season champions for the first time since 2001, which was also the last time NIU chalked up 14 or more MAC wins. The Huskies also reached the MAC Tournament championship match for the second consecutive year – a feat that has only happened one other time in school history (1997-98).
The 27 wins NIU has currently ranks fifth in the nation and is the second straight 27-win season for NIU, marking Gooden’s fourth NIU campaign with 20 or more wins. The Huskies’ 12 road wins lead the NCAA and their .818 winning percentage ranks 20th in the country.
As a team, the Huskies currently lead the NCAA in kills (15.08/set), rank second in assists (14.04/set), sixth in hitting percentage (.282), and 47th in aces (1.46/set).
Individually, Gooden has helped coach outside hitter Lauren Wicinski (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) to her second straight MAC Player of the Year award in only her second season – which has never been done in league history – and senior Kristin Hoffman (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) to MAC Setter of the Year. Wicinski leads the nation in points (6.22/set) and kills (5.36/set) and ranks third in aces (0.59/set). Hoffman paces the country in assists (12.32/set).
Under Gooden, the Huskies also took home a school-record and 2011 league-high five All-MAC awards, including three first team selections.
Gooden and the Huskies continue their stellar season with a 4 p.m. tilt Saturday, Nov. 26, against Marquette at Victor E. Court as they hope for an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Tune into ESPNU at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27, for the NCAA selection show to see if the Huskies make the 2011 NCAA Tournament.