Erin Appleman

Erin Appleman has established herself as one of the most successful collegiate coaches in the country at the helm of the Yale women’s volleyball program.

In her 16 years at Yale, Appleman has 9 Ivy League championships, including a record-setting five straight titles from 2010 to 2014. During her time in New Haven, Appleman owns a .726 winning percentage with an overall record of 289 – 109 entering the 2019 season. She was named Ivy League Coach of the Year in 2018 and won AVCA East Regional Coach of the Year in 2004. Appleman became the first coach in Ivy League history to win an NCAA Tournament match – a feat she has accomplished twice (2004 and 2008). In addition, her teams have earned seven NCAA Tournament appearances, four 20- plus win seasons and finished in either 1st or 2nd place in each of the last 15 seasons.

Within the Ivy League, Appleman owns a 180-44 record– the winningest mark of any program in the conference over the last 16 years. From 2011-2014, the Bulldogs completed the winningest 4 year run of any Ivy League team with a conference record of 51 – 5, surpassing their previous best mark set in 2013. During the 2013 season, Yale won its 23rd straight league match – the longest streak in Ivy League women’s volleyball history– which stretched from November 12, 2011 to November 2nd, 2013.

Appleman’s contributions to the sport also include attracting some of the top programs in the nation to New Haven. In her time at Yale, the Bulldogs have hosted Penn State, USC, Stanford and Minnesota. Yale also competed inside the Pentagon in Washington, DC as part of the Service Academy Challenge in 2013.

Prior to Yale, Appleman spent 8 years as an assistant coach at Penn State. During her tenure, the Nittany Lions reached the NCAA Final Four five times (1993-94, 1997-99) and won 5 Big 10 championships. In addition, she served as an assistant coach for the USA Junior and Youth National Teams from 1994 – 95. Prior to Penn State Appleman served as an assistant coach at Cal State – Northridge and the University of San Diego.

Appleman is a 1990 graduate of San Diego State, where she served as well I while captain and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player in 1989. Despite playing just 2 seasons for the Aztecs, she currently sits 4th on its university’s all- time list with 3,144 career assists. Before transferring to San Diego State, she competed for 2 years at United States International University. In addition, she was a member of the Asics Tiger volleyball club for 6 years and was selected as MVP at USA V Junior Nationals in 1985, when her team won the title.

Chaz Tomblin, Erin’s father, is the reason she has such a love for the game of volleyball. Chaz was himself an accomplished player during his youth. He coached his daughter for 2 years in club volleyball and he has framed the way she continues to teach the game of volleyball. Appleman and her husband, Christian, have 2 children, Justin and Emma, and live in Guilford.

Richard Meyers

Richard attended the University of Oregon, earning a BS in Biology and MS in Physical Education along with a teaching certificate in Biology. While at Oregon he was captain of the water polo team. In 1975 he began his teaching career in Petersburg, Alaska. At first coaching swimming for six years then coached volleyball for five years taking the Vikings to the first ever Alaska 3A State Championship Tournament.

After two years as the Assistant Volleyball Coach at the University of Alaska Anchorage (ranked in the national top 25), Richard was hired at Western Connecticut State University in late August in 1988. Upon arriving in Danbury the entire history Of WCSU volleyball was one page of yellow legal pad paper with about 10 names and telephone numbers. That year WC—SU placed second in the Independent Athletic Conference, then placed first for the next four years before becoming an independent until joining the Little East Conference in 1997 placing second in the LEC in 1997 & 1998.

Western began a string of 49 straight conference wins from 1998-2004 including six straight LEC Titles and five straight Tournament Championships, earning Jive straight NCAA tournament appearances, advancing to the second round three times. During his tenure at Western he coached 4 NCAA All Region players and many IAC All Conference players and 28 LEC player honors with 9 major honor winners. He was Coach of the Year in the LEC 2000 & 2001.

Richard was active nationally as he was a long time member of the AVCA, serving on the AVCA Regional Top 10 Committee. He was also active regionally as Vice President then President of the New England Women’s Volleyball Association. Richard also played in the USVBA Nationals in 1987 and 1988, playing against a team of ex-Olympians in 1988. He played in the Danbury men’s league, the Senior Olympics, the Connecticut State Games and New England Masters, began the Danbury Juniors Program and ran outdoor doubles tournaments and indoor reverse coed tournaments for over 10 years.

While in Alaska he became a commercial fisherman as a salmon trawler. He still trawls commercially for salmon every summer.

Mike Brienza

Mike Brienza began his coaching career at Jonathan Law high school in 1995 and coached the Eagles for twelve years. Law earned the Southern Connecticut Conference Hammonasset Division Championship in 2004 and 2005. In 2006, they were the Southern Connecticut Conference Champions. His teams qualified for the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference state tournament in each season and were the CIAC Class M Runner-up in four state title games. At Law, Mike developed fourteen 1st Team All-State Players and twenty-one players who went on to play in college. In 1999 and 2003, he was recognized as the Connecticut Post and New Haven Register Coach of the Year, and in 2005 he was named the coach of the CIAC Senior All-Star Game.As successful as Mike was with the Jonathan Law Eagles, in 2007 he would take on a new challenge as head coach with the Post University Eagles and set out to turn the program around. By 2014, his team was the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Champions. They never looked back as they repeated in 2015.

They qualified for three straight NCAA Tournament appearances in 2014, 2015, and 2016. In each of those years, he had several athletes on the CACC All-Conference teams, as well as on the All-Academic teams. He coached the CACC Player of the Year in 2014, 2015, and 2016. In those same years, he also had a player on the All-East team and a player who received All-American honors. Mike was honored by National BSN Sports who named him their Coach of the year in both 2014 and 2016.

A colleague said of Mike, “Personally, I think the job he has done at Post University has been nothing short of incredible. I am not sure many in the area could have had nearly the amount of success he has. I believe his program may have been the first or one of the first programs to make the NCAA Tournament at Post. That certainly has had an impact on the university as well”.Mike also has been a Head Coach in the Connecticut Juniors Volleyball Club since 1995. His teams were the New England Regional 18-under Champions in 1996, 2004, 2006 and 2007. His record in eleven years is 410 and 95.Mike continues coaching at Post and with the Connecticut Juniors.

Robin Salters


Robin attended Portage Central High School in Portage, Michigan, and then attended college there as well for two years. She then transferred to the University of New Haven where she had been recruited by Connecticut Women’s Volleyball Hall of Fame member Debbie Chin.


In the two seasons Robin played (1989 and 1990), her team posted identical 33-11 records and the University of New Haven played in the NCAA championships each year.


In her senior year Robin was named the University of New Haven’s Female Athlete of the Year.


Robin went on to graduate school at Western Michigan University and returned to her alma mater as the had volleyball coach in 1994.

University of New Haven News:  Salters Tapped for Women’s Volleyball Hall of Fame

Marilyn Mather


Marilyn began her 4-year volleyball coaching career at the US Coast Guard Academy in 1993.  During that time, her teams compiled a 119-23 match record. They were league champions and undefeated in their three-year membership in the Northeast Women’s Athletic Conference.  In 1995 and ’96, her teams were ranked second in New England and in the top 15 nationally.  They were selected for the NCAA tournament those seasons, and were the first women’s sport team from the Coast Guard to achieve that honor. Marilyn’s players garnered numerous awards while in competition for the Coast Guard.

In 1994, the American Volleyball Coaches Assoc. selected Marilyn as the Regional Coach of the Year.  That same year she was named the New England Women’s Volleyball Assoc.’s Coach of the Year.  In 1995 she was named the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.

After leaving the Coast Guard, Marilyn coached at Albertus Magnus College for four more years and she continues to be involved in volleyball as a high school official.

Marilyn has recently completed work on her Doctoral degree and has accepted a position at Dowling College on Long Island.


Dr. Joan Barbarich

Joan began her volleyball coaching career at Carnegie Mellon University where she coached from 1967-72. She had her first undefeated season there in 1970. Soon after that she received a Doctoral Teaching Fellowship at Springfield College to coach the women’s volleyball team. She coached Springfield from 1972-74 where she had a 24-0 season and competed in the AIAW national tournament in 1972, and a 26-1 season in 1973 with the only loss coming at the hands of SCSU and Louise Albrecht.

In 1976 Joan began her career at SCSU where she coached for 10 years. During that time, her teams competed against Penn St, University of Pittsburgh, University of Maryland, UConn and URI.

During her first five years as coach at Southern, her teams were considered the reigning volleyball power in the east. This is astounding considering that she did not have one scholarship athlete on any of her teams. Her overall record at SCSU was 264-124 (64%).

While at Southern, Joan also started a USVBA team call the New Haven Dippers which she coached for eight years. While this team competed on the national level, no records were kept at that time.

Joan also coached at summer camps and presented clinics at high schools throughout the state.

She completed the USVBA coaching certification for Level I and Level II in California in ’77 and ’78.


Gail Lackey


Currently in her 33rd year at Wesleyan University, Gale Lackey will complete her 26th season as the Head Coach of the Cardinal Volleyball team in 2010. Gale has compiled a 429-334 mark over 25 seasons at Wesleyan. Gale joined the Wesleyan staff in 1978 after spending a year coaching volleyball at the University of Bridgeport. With 13 wins there, Gale has 442 victories in her volleyball college coaching career as of the 2009 season, which ranks among the national leaders in Division III and ranks her as the second all-time winning coach in the history of Wesleyan University Athletics.

Prior to her stint at the University of Bridgeport, Gale coached girl’s volleyball for seven years at Spring Grove High School in York County, Pennsylvania, an area of Pennsylvania with a long and impressive volleyball tradition. In four of her seven seasons at Spring Grove, Gale’s teams were Western Division Champs and played for the prestigious York County Championships. She coached members of her high school squad at the Girls’ Junior National Tournament in Chicago in 1977, after her team won the Middle Atlantic Regional Championship that spring.

Gale is a 1970 graduate of West Chester University in Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Health and Physical Education and earned her M. ED degree there, as well. At Wesleyan University, Gale’s team won the coveted Little Three Championship in 1992 with wins over Williams College and Amherst College. At Wesleyan she has coached seven All-Americans, one NESCAC Rookie of the Year, one NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year and three NESCAC Players of the Year. She was named 2001 NESCAC Coach of the Year after guiding her squad to a 30-6 record, a NESCAC Regular -season Championship with a 9-1 mark, and an invitation to the NCAA Division III tournament. Gale also coached her 2000 squad to an ECAC North Region Division III Championship. In between the 2000 and 2001 seasons, Gale arranged for her squad to take a memorable trip to Cuba during the winter break in January 2001. There, her team competed against a Cuban Junior National team in Havana. Her Wesleyan teams are consistently presented with the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s “Team Academic Award,” which requires a Team Cumulative GPA of 3.4 or higher. Gale has mentored and given free volleyball clinics to residents and students at the Children’s Home of Cromwell. She has given free clinics to underprivileged girls in the Cape Henlopen, DE area. Gale provided volleyball instruction in the Cape Town region of South Africa during a People to People Sports Exchange tour in 1997. She served as a Deputy Commissioner of Volleyball for the Special Olympics World Games in New Haven in 1995, scheduling over 150 contests over the course of that competition.

Gale, who holds the rank of Adjunct Professor of Physical Education and Feminist and Gender Studies at the University, teaches a fencing class and a course entitled “Gender and Sport.” Gale served as Head Coach of Field Hockey from 1978 to 1984, be-fore taking over the volleyball helm in 1985. She was also the Head Coach of Women’s Lacrosse at Wesleyan from 1979 to 1997. She is the athletic department’s Senior Woman Administrator and Associate Director of Athletics. Gale earned Stage I International Coaching Certification from the FIVB at Texas A&M in 1978.


Floretta “Pinky” Crabtree


Pinky was educated at Keene State where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1965. She continued her education at Cortland St. where she earned her MS in Physical Education in 1971.

Her tenure at ECSU began in 1971 after coaching and teaching on the high school level in Michigan and New York for 5 years. She was selected to coach volleyball in the Fall of 1975 beginning a 22-year tenure. This was only the second women’s intercollegiate team at the institution following the formation of women’s basketball in 1971.

In her 22 years as volleyball coach at ECSU, Pinky racked up 616 wins with only 295 losses for a winning percentage of 67.6. Her teams competed in post season tournaments every season beginning in 1977. Eastern qualified 11 times in the 16-year history of the NCAA Division III tournament, earning bids in each of her final four seasons.  Pinky’s Warriors were also named to five ECAC tournaments, winning the title in its first two tries in 1985 and 1988. Under Pinky, Eastern won 22 invitational tournaments, placed second 28 times and was third on 24 occasions and had consolation victories four times. Eleven times the Warriors won at least 40 matches.

Since the introduction of regional and national honors in 1986, Pinky has coached 2 All-Americans, 18 all-region picks and 25 all-New England athletes.

Pinky was named the 1995 New England Region Coach of the Year. She served as chairperson of the NCAA Division III New England Regional Advisory Committee since its inception and was on the American Volleyball Coaches’ Association All-American Committee.  In large measure, through Pinky’s efforts, the New England area was awarded its own NCAA region in 1994, providing the area with increased representation in NCAA Division III tournaments.

She retired from ECSU in July of 1997 holding the distinction as winningest coach in the history of New England Collegiate women’s volleyball.

Debbie Chin


Debbie graduated from W.C. Mephem High School and received BS from SUNY at Cortland, as well as an MS from the University of North Carolina. She is presently the Director of Athletics at the University of New Haven.

There is no aspect of the game of volleyball with which Debbie has not been affiliated. She was a player for the Connecticut Clippers from 1968-1977 where she competed in nine national tournaments. She has officiated on the college level for many years from 1973-1985. This experience also included officiating many regional and national championships. She was a member of the National Volleyball Officials rating team from 1976-1985.

As the head coach at the University of New Haven from 1975-1993, Debbie’s teams competed in eight regional and five national championships. They placed as high as fifth in 1984, 1985, 1988 and 1993. She is a USVBA Coaches Instructor Level I and Level II as well as International Volleyball Federation Stage One Coach. In that capacity, she has given clinics around the world.

Her #1 Total Volleyball Camp held during the summer at Wesleyan University has trained many of the state’s elite high school players.

Debbie has held numerous positions and chaired many committees in intercollegiate athletics. Most recently, she sits on the New England Collegiate Conference Executive Committee and she has chaired the National Association of Girls and Women in Sport volleyball rules committee from 1993-1997.