April 23, 2000
KALAMAZOO -- WMU head volleyball coach Cathy George has been signed to a five-year contract extension which runs through Feb. 28, 2005.
In six seasons at WMU, George has compiled an overall record of 95-79 and a MAC mark of 56-48. The 1999 season saw her guide the Broncos to their first MAC championship match appearance in 10 years. WMU notched its most overall wins (25) since 1987 and most league victories since the 1986 team won 16. Picked to finish third in the MAC's West Division, the Broncos won their first 13 MAC matches and contended for the division title until the final week of the regular season.
"It's very gratifying to know that Western Michigan would like to see us stay in the community and help the team and program grow over the next five years," George said. "It's a nice pat on the back. My family is very happy in the Kalamazoo-Portage area and Western Michigan is a program and academic institution we can all be proud of."
George has led WMU to four consecutive winning seasons in conference play, the first time the program has done so since the 1989-92 seasons. During her tenure at Western Michigan, 15 of her players have earned All-MAC honors, 10 have earned academic all-conference accolades, and four have been honored as GTE Academic All-District players. Seniors Traci Morin and Mandy Whitfield were both all-conference first team picks, marking the first time in 11 seasons two Broncos earned that honor in the same season. The Broncos had the most players named to the 1999 All-MAC First Team roster.
WMU's volleyball program has also been ranked among conference and national attendance leaders during the George era. Last season Western Michigan attracted a total of 10,940 fans to University Arena, the 28th-best total in the nation. WMU's average home attendance of 644 ranked No. 39 among NCAA Division I programs. Western Michigan has led the MAC in total attendance in four of George's six seasons and paced the conference in average and total attendance in 1999.
The Broncos return 12 of 14 players from last season's roster and appear poised to contend for the first MAC title of the new millennium and eighth in program history. Returning starters include honorable mention all-conference setter Jen Nowak (St. Charles, Ill.); defensive specialists Kelly Kuharski (Wheaton, Ill./Warrenville South) and Cindy Kizer (Muncie, Ind./Central); 6-2 middle blocker Zakiya Pope (East Lansing, Mich.); and outside hitters Monyka Paul (St. Louis, Mich.) and Alberta Griffin (South Bend, Ind./Clay).
Western Michigan is 44-20 overall, 26-10 in conference play the last two seasons combined. The Broncos have reached the MAC tournament three straight seasons. George is assisted by Russ Carney (Ball State '78), now in his seventh season at WMU, and Portage Northern graduate Annemarie Mernagh (Pittsburgh '96), who joined the Bronco staff in February.
"I'm pleased with the direction of the program," George said. "I'm looking for it to continue to grow and move forward. I think it's the beginning of a great era for Western Michigan."
Media contact: Geoff Brown; 616 387-4138; firstname.lastname@example.org
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