Iowa Alumni Magazine | October 2008 | People

Sharon Dingman

By IAM Staff

Shared school colors already make it difficult to tell who has the home court advantage when the Iowa volleyball team competes at Purdue. Sharon Dingman intends to make it even harder.

The former Purdue volleyball star plans to fill the stands of her alma mater this month with family and friends wearing Hawkeye black and gold—and lead Iowa to victory as the new UI volleyball coach. Dingman, who grew up about 30 miles from Purdue in Monticello, Indiana, started at Iowa this past March, taking her volleyball career full circle from one Big Ten black-and-gold team to another.

Dingman says that since she played on Purdue's 1979 and 1980 Big Ten championship teams, the conference has turned into one of the most competitive in the country. She jumped at the chance to rejoin the Big Ten as a coach, live in Iowa City, and rebuild a Hawkeye team that hasn't seen a winning season for eight years.

Dingman's main focus will be raising the Hawkeyes' expectations to win. She also plans to attract top recruits with the new practice facility and strength and conditioning training room that will be part of the Carver-Hawkeye Arena renovations.

No stranger to winning, Dingman comes to Iowa from Illinois State, where she guided the Redbirds to last year's NCAA tournament. In six of her eight seasons at Illinois State, she led the team to at least the conference semifinals. She also had similar success at Auburn and Butler during her 17-year career as a head coach.

Despite this track record, Dingman says she's most satisfied with her players' achievements off the court. At Illinois State, her squad earned GPAs over 3.0 every semester—the highest of any sports team. Dingman says, "Every time I see a player walk across the stage with her diploma, that's my proudest accomplishment."

Like UI President Sally Mason—another Boilermaker-turned-Hawkeye—Dingman sees Iowa as her final destination. "The opportunity to coach at a world renowned university presents itself very few times in one's career," says Dingman. "I started my collegiate playing career in black and gold in the Big Ten, and I hope to finish my coaching career in black and gold."