Manuel “Manola” Concepcion has been named as the eighth head volleyball coach at Western Carolina. He replaces Stephanie Dragan, who was fired on Nov. 21 after the Catamounts ended the 2008 season with a 6-26 record.
A native of Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Concepcion spent the last year as an assistant coach at University of Evansville. He assisted the club in jumping from a seventh place finish in 2007 to reaching the Missouri Valley Conference tournament in 2008. In his year at Evansville, Concepcion was also part of the team that upset national powerhouses Missouri State and Northern Iowa.
Prior to his stint at Evansville, Concepcion was the head coach at Colby Community College in 2007, a NJCAA Division I school in Kansas, where he comprised a 20-19 overall record. At just 25 years of age, he was the youngest head coach in the history of the Kansas Jayhawk Conference.?
“We are pleased that Manola Concepcion has joined Western Carolina Athletics as our head volleyball coach,” WCU athletic director Chip Smith said. “We were impressed with his experience and the enthusiasm he brought in the interview process. I look forward to Manuel directing the volleyball program back to its former prominence.”
“I like the challenge of coming here to Western Carolina and getting this program going,” Concepcion said. “I think the players are very eager to improve and see something different. I want to bring a different feel and organizational change, new philosophies and a winning culture.”
Before his coaching career, Concepcion played college volleyball at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez before transferring to Concordia College in New York. In 2002, he was drafted by the San Sebastian Caribes of the Puerto Rico Professional Superior League.
Concepcion’s extensive coaching career began when he founded the Island’s Best Volleyball Club in Puerto Rico at the age of 21 and soon after became its president. In 2004, he became the assistant coach for the men’s volleyball team at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez before being named the head coach of the semi-professional team Vega Baja in the Puerto Rican League at the age of 22.
Concepcion received his Bachelor of Arts degree in organizational management and leadership from Ashford University in San Diego, California. He is certified in all three national coaching levels given by the Volleyball Federation of Puerto Rico and completed the international coaching certification given by the International Volleyball Federation which allows him to coach in any part of the world.