Craig Choate New Head Coach for SUU Volleyball

Published: February 02, 2015 | Read Time: 4 minutes

SUU Volleyball head coach Craig ChoateSouthern Utah University Athletics is excited to begin a new era of volleyball with the hiring of head coach Craig Choate. Coach Choate comes to SUU with the valuable combination of extensive Division I coaching experience and a proven record of wins. Choate has set new standards for winning at three different schools during his coaching career, which is comprised of nearly 700 matches as head coach.

Choate comes to SUU after compiling the most successful season in the history of the Snow College program, earning 20 wins against 7 losses, while playing 13 matches against teams ranked in the top 20 in the nation. His Snow College Badgers finished the season ranked no. 10 in final national rankings.

While talking about the move from Snow to SUU Coach Choate said, “I have loved my time at Snow but everyone wants to work at the top of their profession, so that’s why I want to move on to Southern Utah, back to Division I.”

Prior to Snow, Choate led the Northern Arizona University team to their best season winning percentage in school history (.774), while posting a 24-7 record. He recorded a 72-60 record while at the helm at NAU after taking over a program that had suffered through six consecutive losing seasons prior to his arrival.

Choate stated, “At least the Big Sky venues won’t be new and strange to me but about half of the coaches will. There will be some mixture of comfort zone and nostalgia coming back to the Big Sky Conference.”

“Coach Choate comes ready-made for our program, complete with many successful years as a Division I head coach,” stated SUU Athletics Director Ken Beazer.

Choate compiled a record of 244-191 as head women’s volleyball coach at San Jose State over 14 years. He is that program’s all-time leader in victories, including five 20-win seasons. He took three SJSU teams to the NCAA Tournament, advancing to the second round in 2001.

While at SJSU, Choate earned the school its first national ranking in over 10 years; he earned Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 1999 by finishing with a record of 25-6; he advanced to the championship match of the WAC tournament twice and finished second in the regular season WAC standings three times; he also won 23 matches and took his team to a second place finish in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship in 1994.

“I’m excited to be working with the most elite athletes again,” said Choate. “They (division I) are bigger and stronger.”  He added, “The fundamentals of coaching are all the same and I will continue to coach in the same way, but the athletes will be different.”

Choate was also the head women’s coach at New Mexico State for three years, from 1990-92. He had two separate one-year stints as an assistant coach for the highly-regarded men’s volleyball program at Pepperdine University, as well as assistant coaching positions at both BYU and Cal Poly.

Choate has built a solid reputation of not only being able to find talented players but being able to coach them to notable success.  This past year at Snow he coached one player to All-America status after moving her to a new position. He coached nine All-Big Sky Conference players and three Big Sky Conference Outstanding Freshman Award winners, as well as 37 Academic All-Big Sky selections while at NAU.  He coached 19 Academic All-WAC selections while at SJSU.

Beazer added, “Coach Choate is noted by his colleagues in the profession for his ability to recruit and develop talent.”

Choate is excited to start attending tournaments and pick up the recruiting process at SUU but paid a compliment to his predecessor, Debby Baker, when talking about his current team. “Debby did a nice job of putting some talented players into the program and it is my privilege to work with the ones who are already here.”

Coach Baker resigned in December after compiling a record of 65-117 during her six years at the helm of SUU volleyball.

Choate was an assistant coach at the Olympic Festival in 1994 and 1995. He holds memberships in the AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association), the USAV and has a CAP III (Coaching Accreditation Program) coaching certification.

A native of Los Angeles, Choate graduated from Brigham Young University in 1978 with a degree in physical education. He also earned a master's degree in physical education in 1982 and a second undergraduate degree in history in 1984, both from BYU.

Choate also has an impressive resume as a player. He won silver medals at the 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2004 USA Open Volleyball Championships in Atlanta. He participated in the 1981 USVBA senior men's division open championships and received All-American honors. He played club volleyball while a student at BYU.

*Photo Credit: Northern Arizona University

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