|Title:||Head Volleyball Coach|
HONORS & AWARDS
2011 Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year: Nov. 29, 2011
2009 Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year: Dec. 3, 2009
Lyndsey Oates (Benson) was hired as Northern Colorado’s fourth head women’s volleyball coach on August 8, 2005 -- just three days prior to the start of that season’s fall camp. She had served the previous two seasons as a Bears assistant coach.
In the years since, Oates has led the Bears' march from a NCAA Division II power to Northern Colorado's first team to win a Division I conference postseason championship (2009) and first team to make an NCAA Division I tournament appearance (2009).
Oates , the 2009 and 2011 Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year, has coached 16 players to All-Big Sky Conference recognition at Northern Colorado, including leading seven players to All-Big Sky First Team honors and leading Kelley Arnold to the Big Sky Conference MVP award in 2011.
Oates and her coaching staff also led the Bears on an 11-day, four-match exhibition tour through Eastern China in May 2008 -- the first such overseas trip for any of Northern Colorado’s 19 varsity athletic programs -- and in spring 2012 have plans for a team trip to Nicaragua.
“There is no place I would rather be right now than coaching at Northern Colorado,” says Benson, who grew up in nearby Eaton, Colo. “It is an exciting time, and I’m thrilled to see substantial success within a program I spent so much time following growing up.”
Oates’ Northern Colorado teams have shown steady growth in each of her seven seasons as head coach in Greeley, with highwater marks coming almost yearly, including in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The Bears saw their successful 2011 season end with their second trip to the NCAA Tournament in three seasons.
They won their first outright Big Sky Conference regular-season title in 2011 and then swept through Eastern Washington and Portland State in the Big Sky Conference Championships to earn an NCAA Tournament berth, where they drew third-ranked Hawai'i in the first round.
Northern Colorado held leads in each of its three sets with the Rainbow Wahine in Honolulu, but UH was too much to handle overall in the Bears' season-ending loss.
The loss brought to a close a campaign that featured the Bears winning a Big Sky Conference championship for the third straight year. Northern Colorado won the league's postseason crown in 2009, split its regular-season title in 2010 and won both outright in 2011.
Other achievements of note for the Bears in 2011 were junior Kelley Arnold adding to her already-illustrious career with a unanimous pick for Big Sky Conference Most Valuable Player honors, and true-freshman Andrea Spaustat joining Arnold with a Big Sky First Team selection.
Spaustat, also honored as the league's Freshman of the Year, was just the third Big Sky freshman since 1987 to earn a Big Sky Volleyball First Team honor, joining Portland State's Garyn Schlatter (2010), Montana State's Anne Watts (2000) and Cal State Northridge's Laura Szymanski (1998).
Senior Amanda Arterburn earned a spot on the All-Big Sky Conference Second Team in 2011 and was tabbed as the league's Libero of the Year. In early December 2011 she was honored with Northern Colorado's first American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Region selection since 2002.
Arterburn was joined on the Big Sky second team in 2011 by junior Marissa Hughes, who earned a Second Team spot for the third time in three seasons.
Northern Colorado saw its historic 2010 campaign end in the Big Sky Volleyball Championship, after a loss to top-seeded Portland State in the final match. The defeat left Benson at 99 career wins during her six seasons in Greeley.
The Bears won more games in 2010 (24-7) than any NCAA Division I team in school history and also attracted a school Division I-record 14,442 fans to home matches in 2010, obliterating the previous best mark of 9,223, set in 2009.
In that 2009 season, Oates' Bears finished 21-12 (a school Division I record) and won their first Big Sky Conference Championship before advancing to the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Fort Collins, where it took a game off sixth-ranked Washington before falling 3-1.
Oates was honored as the Big Sky's best coach (Northern Colorado’s first such honor), after she led four players to all-conference honors, including Allison Raguse (first team), Marissa Hughes (second team), Kenzie Shreeve (second team) and Taylor Smith (honorable mention).
The Bears also defeated Colorado (3-0 sweep) in 2009 and took rival Colorado State (a perennial national powerhouse) to five games before losing 3-2 in Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
Oates led Northern Colorado to 14 victories in her first season at the helm and the Bears’ first season playing at the NCAA Division I level. That season, in 2005, also included a 9-4 record against Division I Independent teams and a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Division I Indepdendent Championships, which was hosted by Northern Colorado.
Also in 2005, with a 3-1 victory Nov. 10 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the opening round of the Division I Independent Championships, Oates’ Northern Colorado squad broke the school record for consecutive home matches won. The streak reached 35 consecutive wins before the Bears suffered a 3-1 loss to IPFW (Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne) on Nov. 11. That was the first time Northern Colorado had lost at home since the end of the 2001 season.
The benchmarks continued in 2006, when Oates led the Bears to a 13-16 record (7-9 in the Big Sky) and to their first Big Sky Championship appearance and a tournament-quarterfinal victory against Montana in Northern Colorado’s first year of being eligible for NCAA Division I postseason play.
The Bears fell back a bit in 2007 -- they posted a 10-20 overall record, but their 8-8 Big Sky record was an improvement over the year before -- but in 2008 finished 17-10 (10-6 in the Big Sky), advanced to the Big Sky Conference Championship semifinals and had four players earn all-conference notice, including Shreeve (first team), Raguse (second team), Smith (honorable mention) and Lauren Carter (honorable mention).
The 2008 and prior seasons were just a buildup for a historic 2009 campaign.
In her two seasons as an assistant with the Bears, Northern Colorado compiled a 47-11 record, including a 32-2 mark in her first year.
Oates, who came to the Bears after spending the 2002 season as an assistant coach at Samford in Birmingham, Ala., was a prep star at Eaton (Colo.) High, where she earned all-state honors three times and still holds the fourth spot in Colorado high school history for career kills (980). She also led the Reds to the 1997 state championship her senior year.
She played collegiate volleyball at LSU in Baton Rouge, La., where she finished with 259 career kills and 369 digs and was a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection and earned a degree in mass communication in 2002.
Her time with the Tigers on the court was marred by injury after recording 128 kills and 128 digs in 78 games as a true freshman. She suffered a season-ending elbow injury 12 games into her junior season and was unable to recover the year of elibility with a medical redshirt. She returned for her senior season after two knee surgeries and saw most of her action in the back row, recording a career-high 138 digs.
Oates, who continued her education at Northern Colorado, where she completed her master’s degree in athletic administration in December 2004, married Mark Oates in 2012, and they make their home in Greeley.
|2005||Northern Colorado (HC)||14-16 (.467)|
||13-16 (.448)||First year in the Big Sky Conference; advanced to BSC tourney|
|2007||Northern Colorado (HC)||10-20 (.333)||Finished 8-8 in Big Sky, advanced to second-straight BSC tourney|
|2008||Northern Colorado (HC)||17-10 (.630)||Started 6-0; Lost in BSC tourney semis.|
|2009||Northern Colorado (HC)||21-12 (.636)
||Swept Colorado; Won BSC tourney; Advanced to NCAA Tournament|
|2010||Northern Colorado (HC)||24-7 (.774)
||School Division I record for wins; won share of BSC regular-season title|
|2011||Northern Colorado (HC)||22-9 (.710)
||Won outright Big Sky
Conference title; Advanced to NCAA Tournament