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Illini head women’s volleyball coach Chris Tamas’ journey to the top 

Illini head women’s volleyball coach Chris Tamas’ journey to the top 
Coach Chris Tamas trying to control the energetic atmosphere during a women's volleyball game. (Credit: Illini Athletics)

URBANA, Ill. (BVM) — Coach Chris Tamas started coaching the University of Illinois’ women’s volleyball team in February 2017. Ever since he stepped in as coach, Fighting Illini’s women’s volleyball has worked hard towards success with numbers to show for it. The team has an overall record of 100-52 under Tamas, including the 59-39 mark in the nation’s most rigorous volleyball league, the Big Ten Conference. The Fighting Illini have also made appearances in the NCAA Tournament four times since Coach Tamas has been head coach, and he is nothing but proud.

Tamas credits most of his success seen today to his past jobs and experience. The first team that Tamas started coaching for was UC Riverside, a team that did not have many wins. This team taught him a lot from coaching a team from the ground up and learning how to handle different players that learn at different rates.

When Coach Tamas was talking about his first memory as a coach, he talked about UC Riverside and how that team gave him his path.

“We took a team that really hadn’t been used to winning and our year still didn’t end up that great, we ended up 5-25, so by normal outsider perspective, that wasn’t our year, but we really got the players to play right and we really got them to believe in themselves, and that is when I got hooked on coaching,” Tamas said. “I don’t think I knew that’s when I got hooked on coaching, it’s been a joy since.” 

The leadership skills that he learned coaching at UC Riverside taught Tamas how to be patient, and wait for players to build their own strengths at their own pace. 

“Even when you’re not winning, I think that’s when you learn the most about yourself and who you’re made of,” Tamas said.

The type of coach he is and continues to be is an open-minded, ambitious coach who loves challenges, which we see in his first team, and his college career. Tamas went to University of the Pacific, which was not a volleyball power, but he chose that place for the challenge it presented and what he wanted to accomplish. By the time he graduated, they almost won the conference, but because of unfortunate sickness, they only came close. But, all-in-all it spoke to his level of competitiveness and will to knock down any obstacle. 

Coach Tamas has always played different sports, especially volleyball seeing that he grew up near a beach. Tamas was born in Santa Barbara, California, where he often played beach volleyball, until he started his chapter in volleyball coaching, where he fell in love. Tamas has taken compliment in working with hardworking driven women who rank high in the nation, and plans to continue his journey in uplifting and coaching his team.