Unique background helps coach build program
To build a successful program at the NCAA level, a head coach must be familiar with the business side of recruiting.
Few coaches understand this better than Grand Valley State University head volleyball coach Deanne
Scanlon, who attributes a great deal of her success in the past 18 seasons to her background in the
real estate industry.
Before her career as a head coach, Scanlon worked as a real estate developer for a large company in
Ann Arbor, Mich. She eventually walked away in order to pursue her passion but said these
experiences have helped her become the recruiter she is today.
“It was a lot of sales,” she said. “Part of college athletics is learning your product, finding out what a
person wants and paying attention to detail. I’m able to apply those skills into my recruiting. I really
feel that my business background gave me a leg up.”
The five-time Midwest Region Coach of the Year’s ability to bring in her desired talent has
translated into a career record of 468-143 (258-67 GLIAC) and 18 straight winning seasons.
Scanlon said the faith she has in her product makes it easy to close a sale.
“I keep a very short list,” she said. “I’ve never been afraid to go after a recruit, and we’re going after
a lot of kids who are getting Division I looks. I feel so confident in Grand Valley and what it can
offer a student. It allows me to be bold and feel as if nobody is off limits.”
Once she assembles her team, she can focus on what she truly loves to do—coaching the game of
Since 2000, Scanlon has produced 10 First-Team AVCA All-Americans, 27 All-Midwest Region
players and 28 First-Team All-GLIAC players.
Her biggest accomplishment, though, came in 2005 when her team won the school’s first NCAA
National Championship. She was named the AVCA National Coach of the Year.
“The banners and the records show that she’s an amazing coach who knows what she’s doing,”
junior setter Clair Ruhenkamp said. “It’s what she brings off the court. She’s not just worried about
winning—she’s truly worried about us as individuals.”
Scanlon’s unique ability to incorporate multiple aspects of her life into her coaching style hits home
with her players.
Her experiences as a mom aid her when she is trying to keep her athletes out of trouble. While her
style is more “hands off” when it comes to discipline, she is known by those she coaches to
genuinely care about the future of her players and want what is best for them.
Junior outside hitter Abby Aiken said she recalls a team-building exercise that took her by surprise.
“She took us to this lady’s farmhouse to make jam, scones and butter,” Aiken said. “She finds the
coolest, most random places and they always turn out to be a good time.”
Scanlon hopes to lead the Lakers back to the top of the GLIAC this season, a year after finishing
with a 25-8 record.
The team kicks off the 2013-2014 season by hosting the Riverfront Hotel Grand Rapids Classic at
Fieldhouse Arena on Friday at 1 p.m.