Kent State Volleyball Camps
Named the eighth head coach in program history on April 17, 2012, Don Gromala has led the Kent State volleyball program to a 70-79 mark over his first five seasons, which included the school’s first Mid-American Conference East Division title in 2015.
The 2016 season saw juniors Kelsey Bittinger and Challen Geraghty become the first Golden Flashes to earn multiple All-MAC First Team honors. Bittinger posted her 1,000th career dig in the team’s MAC Tournament loss to become just the fourth Kent State player with 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs and the first to accomplish the feat in three seasons. Geraghty continued to record digs at a record-setting pace and will enter her senior season second on the school’s all-time digs list.
In 2015, Kent State set new program records for conference wins (13), All-MAC selections (5) and MAC East Player of the Week selections (10) en route to tying Ohio for first in the MAC East and finishing just one match from the school’s first conference regular season championship.
During his five seasons on the Kent State sidelines, Gromala has continued to take the Flashes to new heights. After leading Kent State to its first ever win over a nationally-ranked team and a return to the MAC Tournament in 2013, Gromala and his staff brought in an infusion of talent with back-to-back recruiting classes that were ranked among the top 100 in the country by PrepVolleyball.com.
Gromala’s teams have played particularly well at the M.A.C. Center with a 34-23 record in front of the home fans. Kent State won nine home matches in 2014 to match the most since 2002. Notable wins for the Flashes include back-to-back Golden Flashes Classic titles and a win over #18 Ohio.
Great strides were made during the 2013 season, as Kent State doubled its win total from the previous season to finish with a 12-18 record. Despite being picked to finish last by conference coaches prior to the season, Kent State tied for third in the MAC East Division and claimed the No. 8 seed in the MAC Tournament after missing the tournament the previous two seasons. A historic victory over No. 18 Ohio on October 10, 2013 was perhaps the highlight of the season, as Kent State knocked off a nationally-ranked opponent for the first time in program history. The four-set victory came in front of a raucous crowd at the M.A.C. Center and solidified the Flashes as a program on the rise.
Kent State players earned five MAC East Player of the Week awards during the 2013 campaign, which is a program record. On the offensive side, Bridget Wilhelm earned the award twice while Kelly Hutchison and Liz Reikow were each selected once. Hannah Herc also won the award once for her outstanding defensive play.
Gromala inherited a youthful roster that featured just one senior and two juniors in his first season. On September 21, 2012, Gromala led the Golden Flashes to a dramatic 3-2 come-from-behind win at Miami to become the third coach in program history to come away victorious in his MAC debut. Other highlights of the season included a thrilling five-set victory over BIG EAST foe South Florida (17-15) and a 3-1 win at the M.A.C. Center over MAC Tournament runner-up Northern Illinois.
The Golden Flashes achieved much success in the classroom during Gromala’s tenure. Kent State received the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award in both of his seasons as head coach, marking the first time the program has been recognized in consecutive seasons. In 2013, Hannah Herc and Kelly Hutchison were named to the Academic All-MAC team. Additionally, Gromala has had nine student-athletes earn Academic All-MAC honorable mention recognition.
Gromala brought nine years of coaching experience rooted in the tradition of Midwest volleyball with him when he took over Kent State’s program. Most recently, he spent four seasons as an assistant coach at perennial top-25 power Ohio State, where he was tutored by head coach Geoff Carlston. The Buckeyes advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in Gromala’s final two seasons on staff.
While in Columbus, Gromala assisted with all aspects of the Ohio State program, including training outside hitters and setters, scouting opponents and directing camps and clinics. In all, Gromala oversaw the development of three AVCA All-Americans, six AVCA All-Region honorees, six All-Big Ten Conference picks and 26 Academic All-Big Ten recipients.
Gromala is no stranger to the MAC, having spent four years on the sidelines at Ohio, where he was part of a stretch in which the Bobcats compiled a 116-17 (.872) overall record and a 63-1 (.984) mark in conference play. He worked two years as an assistant coach following two seasons as a graduate assistant. The Bobcats captured the MAC Tournament crown to earn NCAA Tournaments appearances - including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2005 – in each of his four years on staff.
Gromala got his NCAA Division I coaching start at Iowa State, working as a volunteer assistant coach for his alma mater during the 2003 season as the Cyclones put together their best finish in nearly 10 years.
Before his stint at Iowa State, Gromala spent 2000-03 as an assistant at Des Moines Area Community College, coaching an NJCAA All-America pick and helping lead the squad to a sixth-place finish in the NJCAA Nationals.
A 2004 graduate of Iowa State with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies, Gromala both 9714played for and coached the school’s men’s club volleyball team. The team posted four NIRSA Top 25 finishes during Gromala’s tenure as head coach from 1999-2004. Gromala was a two-time all-conference selection and served as team captain during his playing days from 1998-2001.
Gromala also has coaching experience at the club level, serving as the head coach for Iowa Power Volleyball Alliance from 2003-04 and leading the team to a fourth-place finish in the Iowa Regional. He also led the Cyclone Juniors Volleyball Club to its first Junior Olympic National Tournament after winning the Northern Lights Qualifier.
A native of Mount Prospect, Ill., Gromala and his wife, Meredith, were married in May 2013 and welcomed their daughter, Josephine, in December 2014.