Eastern Mennonite University has announced the resignation of Steve Benson, head coach of the men’s and women’s volleyball programs, effective at the end of July. Benson, who just finished his sixth season at EMU, has accepted a position as the Event Manager for the Florida Region of USA Volleyball.
In the 2005-06 season, Benson took over as Eastern Mennonite’s first combined men’s and women’s volleyball coach. He guided the men’s program to four North East Collegiate Volleyball Association tournaments and back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2006 and 2007.
The Royals had a 93-82 record in his six seasons, including 32-12 in NECVA play. Benson leaves with the most coaching wins in the program’s 21-year history. His 22-11 team in 2007 also holds the mark for most wins in a season.
On the women’s side, Benson finished 41-124 and advanced to one Old Dominion Athletic Conference tourney. The Lady Royals were 11-49 in ODAC matches.
Benson said the position in Florida provided a couple of benefits for him.
“It is a great opportunity to be associated with volleyball from a different perspective in my career,” he said, “and also to be close to home and family in Florida because of situations that have happened over the past year. I appreciate that EMU gave me a chance to coach on both the men’s and women’s level. It was a tremendous experience that has given me a chance to grow in my abilities and knowledge of game.”
Athletic Director Dave King said Benson helped establish the position as EMU’s first combined head coach for volleyball.
“Steve was somewhat of a pioneer, taking on the responsibilities for both women’s and men’s programs,” King said. “I am grateful for his willingness to take on this new model and give the amount of time, energy and balance it takes to work with both programs.”
King said Benson’s connections brought Eastern Mennonite to the attention of new groups of potential student-athletes.
“Steve has maintained strong relationships with the club volleyball programs in the country, specifically USA Volleyball, which has helped broadened the scope of recruiting, particularly for the men’s team,” he said. “With very few high schools in Virginia sponsoring boys’ volleyball, his knowledge of and participation in the club volleyball program was beneficial to our program.”
Benson also helped guide the scheduling for the transition of the men’s program into the new Continental Volleyball Conference, which begins play in the upcoming season.
He said the relationships he formed at Eastern Mennonite will be the hardest thing for him to leave.
“I’m going to miss the people at EMU and the relationships I developed,” said Benson, “and most importantly the relationships I developed with past and present players. Those are very dear to me and I hope to continue my relationships with those players.”
King said he understood Benson’s decision, and with women’s preseason practices starting in just over a month he is already looking at what direction to go with coaching.
“I wish Steve and his family well in their transition back to Florida,” he said. “It appears to be a good situation for them to combine their passion for volleyball with important family relationships. I have already started exploring options for interim coaches for each team or persons interested in the full-time position and will be working with assistant coaches to help in the transition to new coaches and/or new structures. I am committed to finding the best person(s) to continue building both programs and providing the student athletes with both individual and team success.”