Coach and Athletic Director – Tom Ackerman

Tom Ackerman coaching his JV Volleyball team during practice in HJ Long Gym.
Tom Ackerman coaching his JV Volleyball girls during a practice in HJ Long Gym. Media by: Hannah Krukewitt

Tom Ackerman began his journey as Athletic Director in 2017 and has been the head women’s volleyball coach since 2002. Before he was the head coach of the women’s volleyball team, he tells us, “I started as a student assistant in 1997.” On June 1, 2017, Ackerman was assigned to his joint role as Athletic Director and Head Women’s Volleyball Coach.

When asked what the reasoning was for taking on both positions, he explained, “The university approached me and it made sense at the time. I love GU and the institution has given me many opportunities and I was in a position to give back and serve. I work with so many great coaches and I enjoy being able to support them.”

Coach Ackerman and Hayle Gibson.
Media by Annie Jordan.

During Ackerman’s time as head coach, the volleyball team has experienced an impressive run of success. This includes seven consecutive SLIAC regular-season championships, making appearances in the NCAA tournament in 2010, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, seven consecutive seasons with 20 or more wins, and a record of 166-56 in the last seven seasons. Coach Ackerman is also a five-time SLIAC “Coach of the Year” award recipient, and his teams have acquired a SLIAC record of 110-10 over the past seven seasons that they were conference champions.

Ackerman also served as head men’s volleyball coach for its first season in 2016, and the team finished with a 16-11 record and was seventh in the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League. They topped all first-year conference programs with their seventh-place position in a league of fourteen teams.

Junior team captain Anna Finch and Coach Tom Ackerman.
Media by Anna Finch.

When asked how he balances the duties of his joint role, he answered, “I have an amazing staff in the athletic department and in the volleyball program. I try to be as organized and as efficient as possible, but it does get difficult and I could never do it without having incredible people around me. It was a challenge to adjust at first, but now that I have done it for several years I have found a good balance.” As an Athletic Director, he is in charge of overseeing the entire athletic department, nineteen varsity and club sports, and over 50 employees in the athletic department.

With as much success as Coach Ackerman has had coaching, it begs the question, what is his favorite part about coaching? He said, “I love building the culture within a team and I love trying to figure out how to help players reach their potential.” Some of that success can also be attributed to some of the leadership skills he learned from playing club volleyball which has helped him with his joint role.

Senior captain Maci Bonacorsi says she loves having coach Ackerman because “he gets to know you personally and he’s like a second dad away from home.” She also described her coach as “fun and like a little kid at heart, he loves to joke around and hang out with all of us.” Another quality Bonacorsi likes about her coach is he pushes the team during practice and wants everyone to get better. However, she says, “He understands school is first as well, so if you need to take time out of practice to study he is very understanding.”

The Panthers have played a total of 17 matches and are now 10-7 on the season. The women’s volleyball team has gone 5-1 in conference play. The next home game is this coming Friday, October 11th. This will be another SLIAC match up against Iowa Wesleyan.

Media by Hannah Krukewitt.



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