Nebraska volleyball is in the coaching market again as the university announced Wednesday that assistant coach Tyler Hildebrand is leaving the program to take a position with USA Volleyball. He joined Nebraska last February after successful stints as a player and coach at the collegiate, club and international levels.
“Of all the coaches I’ve hired, Tyler is giving up more of what he has going on right now than anyone,” Coach John Cook said when Hildebrand was hired last February. Hildebrand’s wife, Kristin, an All-American at Stanford as a player and captain of the U.S. Women’s National Team, worked as Nebraska’s volunteer director of volleyball operations last season.
“The 2017 season was an awesome season and one of the reasons why was because of Tyler and Kristin,” Cook said. “They really brought a lot to our team and had a major part in helping us win a Big Ten and a National Championship. This new position is the only position that would take him away from Nebraska, and even though the timing isn’t great, we know he’ll do a great job with USA Beach Volleyball.”
In his new position Hildebrand will oversee USAV’s beach program as its Director of Coaching. Beach volleyball has been a part of the Summer Olympic Games since 1996.
“It is with bittersweet emotions that Kristin and I are leaving this magical place,” Hildebrand said. “We had a magical season, one that we will never forget. Coaching in Devaney is like nothing else in the world of volleyball. We have heavy hearts filled with memories that will never fade. We can't express enough how grateful we are for being able to be a part of this Husker family.
"I want to thank Coach Cook, Pat Logsdon and the University of Nebraska for the opportunity to be a part of this incredible program. I also want to thank Husker Nation for all the support this year and for welcoming me and my family with open arms. Husker Nation is truly, without question, the best fan base this country has. I want to thank the rest of the staff who supported me and the team throughout this entire year. Finally, I want to thank the Huskers for allowing me to come in and teach them to the best of my abilities. The team was a blessing to coach and showed us all the power of coming together and being with each other, for each other. This program, university and state is lucky to have Coach Cook. I have learned countless things from him, and he showed me as a coach what it takes to be great. I thank him for pushing and mentoring me and making me a much better coach. There will not be a week that goes by the rest of my career that I don't have coach in my mind wondering what he would do in a certain situation or how he would guide me."
Hildebrand has a deep connection with both the international game and beach volleyball. A setter with the U.S. Men’s National Indoor Team from 2006 to 2012, Hildebrand also competed on the Association of Volleyball Professionals beach tour in 2006 and 2007. He moved into coaching full time once his playing career was over, serving as the top assistant for Long Beach State on the men’s side, while continuing to work with USA Volleyball. In 2016, Hildebrand coached the American beach duo of Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“Although I have been fortunate to have a diverse background in many different areas of volleyball, my heart and passion lies within beach volleyball," Hildebrand said. "I am excited to get to work with the USAV Beach performance team, [Director of Beach National Teams] Sean Scott and staff, and the many gifted athletes and coaches we have and will have in the future.”
In an interview with Hail Varsity, Cook said USAV officials first started talking about the need for someone to oversee the beach program four years ago. The organization asked for proposals, and Hildebrand was one of those to submit.
Funding for the new position was finally approved late last year, and USAV reached out to Hildebrand. He offered to help the organization find candidates for the position, but after two months of searching USAV expressed a renewed desire to have Hildebrand consider taking the job.
The departure means Nebraska is looking for its third new assistant in just over a year. Dani Busboom Kelly took over as head coach at Louisville following the 2016 season, and Nebraska hired former Husker Kayla Banwarth to replace her last January. When Chris Tamas left the program in February of 2017 to become the head coach at Illinois, Cook hired Hildebrand. He filled a variety of roles for the Huskers in 2017, including working extensively with the setters and the blocking defense.
“Just like a year ago we’re going to go find the best coach we can for Nebraska volleyball,” Cook said. “We loved having Tyler here, but this is a really unique job for him with USA Volleyball and fits what he wants to do and where he wants to go in the coaching profession. When you hire great people, they’re going to have great opportunities, and this is a great opportunity for Tyler and a great fit for him back home.”
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.