Tom Shoji Hired as Head Coach of Women's Volleyball at Willamette

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University has hired Tom Shoji as the next head coach of women's volleyball for the Bearcats. He will start his duties this spring, but will not arrive on campus permanently until this summer.

"Tom's nationally respected teaching skills and his proven track record of success will provide our program with a boost almost immediately," said WU Director of Athletics Mark Majeski,. "He impressed us with his knowledge, thoughtfulness and competitiveness. He is fully committed to Willamette's vision of the student-athlete model of intercollegiate athletics."

Shoji has a long and respected career as a collegiate volleyball coach. His head coaching experience in women's volleyball totals 24 seasons, including six years each at New Mexico State University and Indiana University, plus 11 years at Colorado State University-Pueblo and one year at Westmar University (Iowa).

After several years away from four-year collegiate coaching, Shoji was ready to return to the sidelines. Willamette stood out as a great place for him to focus on the entire student-athlete, both on the court and in the classroom. He looks forward to teaching volleyball skills to Willamette's players, while working to build a winning program at the conference, regional and national levels.

"If you've been in the gym for as many years as I've been, it's either going to run you out of the game or keep you in it," Shoji said. "It's much more gratifying to win or lose a match than it is to sit behind a desk. As a coach, every day you can find that gratification.

"Sometimes it's even more refreshing to work with student-athletes who didn't receive a lot of scholarship money," Shoji added. "There's a big difference between Division I and Division III in how the athletes view the game. In Division III, the athletes have a love of the game. They're out there because they want to play. That's a different attitude and it's a refreshing attitude.

"I'm kind of excited about it," Shoji said about becoming Willamette's head coach. "I'm coming into a conference with a lot of experienced coaches. It's going to be a challenge getting Willamette competing for that conference title in the future. That's our ultimate goal for now."

Willamette has been 4-22 each of the past two seasons and has lost 43 Northwest Conference matches in a row. The Bearcats were competitive in many of the conference matches in 2007, with four 5-game losses and seven 4-games losses. Willamette was unable to win any of the matches that went five games.

"They need to change the way they handle adversity," Shoji said. "It's the way they view the match the night before, the last game played, the last rally. A lot of it has to do with how we view ourselves."

Willamette graduated only one player and returns a solid group of athletes. Shoji was pleased with the talent he saw while viewing video of the team.

"I'm encouraged that there is that kind of skill on the team," he said. "And now it's just incorporating that skill into my system and the system of the team."

Shoji coaching history began in 1973 as a teacher and coach in the Santa Barbara High School District in California. While working at Santa Barbara HS, he started coaching the men's volleyball team at Santa Barbara City College in 1979. He held both jobs until 1981, when he became the head coach of women's volleyball at New Mexico State University.

He stayed at NMSU through the 1986 season, then took over as the head women's volleyball coach at Indiana University. Shoji coached the Hoosiers for six years through the 1992 season. In 1993, he served as the head coach and a physical education instructor at Westmar University in LeMars, Iowa. He then coached for 11 seasons at Colorado State University-Pueblo (then know as the University of Southern Colorado) from 1994 through 2004.

While working at CSU-Pueblo, he also served as the compliance coordinator for the Department of Athletics. Shoji left CSU-Pueblo prior to the 2005-06 academic year to become the associate athletic director for compliance and student services at the University of California-San Diego.

He has been an unpaid consultant to the UCSD women's volleyball team and has coached with the Seaside Boy's Volleyball Cub. He left UCSD at the end of the fall semester and is currently the head coach of the San Diego Mesa College men's volleyball team, which competes at the junior college level.

In 1996, he was named American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Northwest Region Coach of the Year for NCAA Division II and was chosen Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) Coach of the Year. He served on the NCAA Division I West Region Committee from 1984 through 1985 and was the chairman of the AVCA All-America Committee for NCAA Division I from 1989-91.

Later, he chaired the AVCA All-Northwest Region Committee in NCAA Division II from 1996-01. He was a member of the NCAA Division III All-America Committee from 1999 through 2001.

He is highly respected in the world of volleyball as a coach and a teacher. He also has put his abilities to use as a CAP Clinician with USA Volleyball.

Shoji is originally from Hawaii. His brother, Dave Shoji, has been the head women's volleyball coach at the University of Hawaii since 1975.

Tom Shoji has been named head women's volleyball coach at Willamette University.

Tom Shoji has been named head women's volleyball coach at Willamette University.