Sharon Dingman enters her eighth year at the helm of the Illinois State University volleyball program this season, having helped this traditional contender into one of the premier programs in the highly competitive Missouri Valley Conference.
Dingman won her 300th career match on Sep. 1, 2006 in a win over Texas-San Antonio. After completing a 17-13 campaign in 2006, Dingman's career coaching slate, which also includes a stop at Auburn and Butler, sits at an impressive 315-200 (.612).
The fifth coach in Illinois State history has led the program to winning seasons in six of her seven campaigns as the Redbird mentor, and also amassed seven winning seasons in eight tries at Butler. In her lone season with the Tigers, she led Auburn to a 22-13 overall slate.
Beyond her success on the court, Dingman has become one of the most respected volleyball coaches in the nation by being an advocate for her sport, a role model for her profession and student-athletes and a valued member of the Bloomington-Normal community. She was a member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Board of Directors for seven years, and has actively served on many other sport-related committees.
Dingman has also volunteered her service to support the Special Olympics, the Council of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators and the Citizens for Sports Equity. She was also a volunteer at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.
During her tenure, Illinois State has had 17 All-Missouri Valley Conference selections, and nine players have been named to the league's scholar-athlete squad.
In 2004, four volleyball student-athletes earned perfect 4.00 grade-point-averages, and the team's 3.32 GPA was one of the highest in Illinois State team history. In the fall 2005 semester, the volleyball team won the academic award for the highest GPA in the athletic department.
Dingman has continued to embrace the home court advantage of Redbird Arena since her 2000 arrival on campus. Under Dingman, five of the top-20 crowds in MVC history have occurred at Redbird Arena, including a league-record 5,641 fans in a match against nationally-ranked Stanford on Sep. 11, 2002. In August 2005, a crowd of 3,259 was in attendance for an exciting five-game thriller versus in-state rival Illinois to kick-off the 2005 season.
Dingman started her head coaching career in 1991 at Southeastern Conference member Auburn, where she led the Tigers to a 22-13 record in her lone season. She accepted the Butler job in 1992, and proceeded to lead the Bulldogs to four 20-win seasons and three postseason national tournaments, including an appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 1997 after capturing the Midwestern Collegiate Conference title. The most single-season wins in Dingman's coaching history resulted in her being tabbed as the 1997 MCC Coach of the Year.
Prior to becoming a head coach, Dingman spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at three Division I programs. After a season at Northern Michigan, she assisted at Texas Tech from 1985-87. She joined Kathy DeBoer's Kentucky staff in 1988, where she coached with former Purdue teammate and current Florida coach Mary Wise. The Wildcats won an SEC championship in 1988, and reached the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament in three consecutive seasons (1988-90).
Her playing career included being a part of the 1979 and 1980 Big Ten championship teams at Purdue. Dingman then transferred to Northern Michigan, where she was the squad's captain and most valuable player. She earned her bachelor's degree in health sciences in 1984.
In Dingman's first season at Illinois State, she led the Redbirds to a 20-win campaign, including a 15-3 Valley slate. Finishing second in the league standings, ISU narrowly missed an automatic NCAA Tournament bid, dropping a tough decision to nationally-ranked Northern Iowa in the championship match of the State Farm MVC Tournament.
The 2004 campaign was also a record-setting season at Illinois State. Dingman led an experienced squad to 22 wins (the most since 1998). The Redbirds also captured the program's first-ever Barker GMC Classic Championship, and broke a school-record with 18 consecutive home wins. Two Illinois State players, Kelly Rikli and Laura (Doornbos) Ludwig, both claimed all-conference first-team laurels. It was the first time since 2000 that two Redbirds collected first-team recognition. Rikli was also an honorable mention AVCA All-District selection.
Dingman's teams have always been playing their best volleyball down the stretch. In seven appearances at the postseason State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, the Redbirds have reached at least the semifinals in five of those campaigns. ISU has had its season ended by the eventual tournament champion and league NCAA representative four times.
ISU's team successes in the past six years have led to individual recognition for several players during Dingman's tenure.
In 2000, Kendra Haselhorst became the sixth Redbird in program history to be named MVC Player of the Year. Former player Savannah Knowles was tabbed as league Newcomer of the Year in 2003 and sophomore Erin Lindsay captured Freshman of the Year honors in 2005 after ranking 21st in the nation in assists-per- game. In addition to the 17 All-MVC honorees, Dingman's Illinois State players have also earned all-district or all-region accolades twice.
An avid athlete herself, Dingman has participated in, and completed, five marathons.
Dingman is a Monticello, Ind., native where she is a Hall-of-Famer at her alma mater, Twin Lakes High School. She resides in Bloomington.