Saturday, December 1, 2012

NCAA | Central Arkansas head coach David McFatrich: a class act

Sugar Bears make an impression in Seattle

Your Volleyblog Seattle correspondents have been attending NCAA post-match press conferences for ten years, including eight Final Fours.

University of Central Arkansas coach David McFatrich
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann

As you might expect, the mandatory press conferences featuring the losing team are usually a red-eyed, streaked-mascara mess, filled with tears and emotion and tired clichés. Mostly, coaches and players just want to get back on the bus and head home.

Central Arkansas, and its engaging coach David McFatrich, were a refreshing exception. After losing to heavily-favored Washington in a first-round match, they were gracious, eloquent and proud. Which is not to say they weren’t disappointed with the final score.

“We came out here thinking we had a chance to win,” said McFatrich. “So the fact that we didn’t hurts.”

“I think we’re really proud to get to this tournament,” said middle blocker Taylor Hammonds. “But we’re really disappointed, too. It’s bittersweet.”

That said, the Sugar Bears head coach had nothing but praise for both his team and for the Huskies. “Washington was the best team we’ve ever played,” he said.

McFatrich, a former baseball player, fell in love with volleyball when he happened to get tickets to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. He still plays Masters Volleyball, and competes in top tournaments with former members of the Canadian National Team.

In this, his sixth season at Central Arkansas, McFatrich has led his team to a Southland Conference championship, a 30-5 record, an RPI under 50 and the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament bid. Some of the nation’s top teams have already been calling to try to schedule the Sugar Bears next season.

“We love this feeling,” McFatrich said. “We love bringing pride to our little school of 12,000 people, right outside Little Rock, Arkansas. This means more to us and our school than I ever could imagine.”

Central Arkansas fans wearing purple and silver courtside at Alaska Airlines Arena
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann

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