Chadron State hires Chris Wells as interim head volleyball coach
CHADRON, Neb. -- Chris Wells has been hired as the interim head coach at Chadron State, athletic director Joel R. Smith announced Thursday.
Wells, a native of Berkeley, California, replaces Janel Baily, who resigned earlier this month. He is the 14th volleyball coach in CSC history, but just the second man to lead the program since 1972.
"Chris brings a wealth of experience at all levels of the NCAA," Smith said. "He will enhance our volleyball program and I'm confident he'll be a good fit for Chadron State and its athletic program."
Wells has 28 years of playing and coaching experience, most recently serving as the associate head coach at New Mexico Highlands for the 2013 season. He helped guide the Cowgirls to a 12-17 record, which was their most wins in the past 10 years. He was responsible for weight room training, and practice and game planning. He also worked as the recruiting coordinator and assisted Highlands' assistant athletic director in compliance.
"I would like to thank President [Richard R.] Rhine and Joel Smith for giving me an opportunity to be the head coach of the Chadron State volleyball program," Wells said. "Their vision for student-athletes and the athletic program were an integral part of me coming to Chadron State. I'm excited to get started. I want blue collar, hardworking kids on my team and that fits into exactly the type of student-athletes who excel at Chadron State."
Wells has coached at every level of the NCAA and he's led high school and club teams in California and Oregon. He was also the starting outside hitter for the Tri-Valley Juniors boys team that won the silver medal at the Can Am games in 1984.
As the head coach at Willamette University, he was named the Northwest Conference Coach of the Year in 1992 when the Bearcats won a school-record 40 matches and went undefeated in league play. In three years guiding the Bearcats, Wells compiled a record of 98-46 and won two conference titles.
Following a six-year stint as the founder and director of the Emerald City Volleyball Club in Eugene, Oregon, Wells was the associate head coach for three seasons at Eastern Washington. Under Wells and head coach Wade Benson, the Eagles won the Big Sky Conference and qualified for the NCAA Division I national championship in 2001.
After several years of private business ventures, Wells developed and coached a volleyball club in Pleasant Hill, California, for three years. He was the California East Bay Coach of the Year in 2008 at Miramonte High School in Moraga, California, before directing and coaching a camp designed for technical training and development at the University of Portland from 2009-12.
In 2013, he was named the associate head coach at New Mexico Highlands. His familiarity with Chadron State and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference drew him to the Eagles' coaching post.
"I came to Chadron State because I wanted an opportunity to build something special in a community that supports its athletic programs," Wells said. "When Highlands came up for a match last year I was amazed at how many students and community members were here cheering their volleyball team on. The opportunity to be a head coach in one of the toughest volleyball conferences in Division II was enticing and one that I look forward to. I believe the student-athletes at Chadron State are ready to meet and exceed all expectations."
Wells inherits a squad with nine returning letter winners and four returning starters. In 2013, the Eagles went 6-23 and 3-16 in the RMAC. The six victories were the most for the program since 2007.
"I want to put the volleyball team in the best situation to be successful and I am confident they will do that," he said. "I want to create a culture of high expectations of success through hard work, dedication and grit. I want the players to remember their time here fondly and to pass their passion for volleyball on to those around them for years to come when they graduate from Chadron State."