“I love figuring out what makes someone tick. I’ve always been a people person who has a good sense of how people react and think about things,” says Craig Letourneau, who majored in psychology at Rhode Island College. It all comes in handy for the volleyball coach known for motivating his players all the way to conference and state championships.
He’s now the motivating force behind Wheaton’s women’s volleyball team, as the newly hired head coach. He replaces Ben Read, who resigned after five seasons with the Lyons.
Letourneau grew up playing basketball and soccer, but didn’t take on volleyball until his freshman year in high school. “My high school did not have a boys’ team, but my aunt was the high school girls’ coach. So I managed their team during my high school years. I also played in an afterschool intramural/club boys’ program that was started in the high school.”
Wheaton Associate Director of Athletics John Sutyak ’00 says he is pleased to welcome Letourneau to the Wheaton athletics family. “His success in rebuilding the women’s volleyball programs at Rhode Island College and most recently at Emerson College, as well as his strong work ethic and enthusiasm made him the right person to take Wheaton women’s volleyball to the next level and start competing for conference championships.”
A veteran head coach at the Division III level for the past nine years, Letourneau spent the past four at Emerson, where he guided the Lions to an 89–38 record and a trip to their first NCAA Tournament in 2009. Leading Emerson to a school record in wins that fall at 30–7, he steered the Lions to their initial Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) regular season and tournament titles. The 2009 GNAC Coach of the Year, Letourneau also coached Emerson’s men’s volleyball program.
“I am beyond excited about this opportunity to make Wheaton women’s volleyball one of the top programs in New England,” says Letourneau, who is drawn to the sport because of the combination of athleticism, agility, power and finesse required to excel in it.
“Wheaton is a great school academically and athletically and plays in one of the best athletic conferences in the country. Hopefully, we can jump right in and attract student-athletes who have a great passion for the game combined with the knowledge that a great education is key to success in life.”
Prior to his Emerson appointment, Letourneau was a part-time head coach at Rhode Island College. From 2002 to 2006, he directed the Anchorwomen to an 86–75 mark, improving the team’s win total during each of his first four seasons. Rhode Island College shared the Little East Conference (LEC) regular season crown in 2004 and advanced to the league tournament title match in 2006, both program firsts. Letourneau also served as an assistant women’s basketball coach.
He always knew he wanted to coach, following in the footsteps of his father, who coached high school and CYO teams. “I love the breaking down and building up of a match, the plays and the skills. I enjoy every aspect of coaching. I love the way it all comes together. Getting a team to play as one cohesive unit on the floor is the ultimate goal.”
Letourneau began his coaching career at the high school level, working as the head boys’ and girls’ volleyball coach at Mount Saint Charles Academy in Woonsocket, R.I., for four years. He led the boys to a state title in 2001 and the girls to a state runner-up finish that same year. He was named coach of the year five times, including on four occasions for the girls. He also was a successful girls’ basketball coach for seven years at Lincoln High School, winning a state title in 2005.
“I look forward to the season and developing a trust with the current players while motivating them to work hard to improve their skills and also their belief that they can win,” he says. “Having a competitive team exudes excitement on campus and gathers a great fan base for matches.”
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Photo by Amie Rosenblum ’12