Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan decides to retire after 22 years
After 22 successful years with the University of Idaho volleyball team, now-former head coach Debbie Buchanan has stepped down from her post. Debbie ends her Idaho stint as the program’s winningest coach with a 320-317 record.
The Idaho Vandals are one of the most recognizable teams in collegiate volleyball. This is largely due to Debbie who built the team culture over the past two decades. She emphasized building relationships with the players and staff that went through the door. Unfortunately, all journeys have to end and Debbie felt this was the best time to step away.
The Vandals played in many conferences including the Big West, Western Athletic, and the Big Sky during her tenure. They were most successful during their conference games as they accrued a 198–164 record under Debbie. They had strong campaigns throughout her entire stint but the 2021 performance was dismal compared to previous years in Debbie’s tenure.
They finished the 2021 season with a 5-20 record which was a disappointing tally. This led to Debbie seeing that changes are inbound prompting her to step away.
Debbie will always have Idaho in her heart
Leaving a job of two decades is one of the toughest decisions to make but Debbie realized that the program needs to refresh. She also knew that her time coaching teams might be over because she has already given it her all. It has rewarded her for efforts over the years but this time, she knows that it’s the right time to step away.
She said, ‘I am retiring from coaching after 27 years to be closer to my family and to be able to go and watch my boys compete. I have loved my time here at the University of Idaho and appreciate all the support and friendships I have made along the way’.
Debbie can now focus on helping her sons’ volleyball careers. They followed in her footsteps as the oldest son, Austin is playing for the University of Hawaii’s volleyball team and the youngest, Blake is drawing college recruiters as a junior in high school.
Debbie’s contributions to Idaho will be remembered
Debbie’s volleyball career ended because of a knee injury which prompted her to enter the coaching space. She had stints as an assistant coach at Colorado State and Idaho before taking over as the head coach for the latter in 2000.
Idaho athletic director Terry Gawlik was thankful for Debbie’s contributions to the school as they always knew they could rely on their volleyball team to perform.
Terry said, ‘She has done everything right on and off the court and made Vandal volleyball competitive for over two decades in three different leagues. We are grateful for everything she has done for Vandal Athletics and wish her all the best going forward’.
Now, the search is on and it will be interesting to see who replaces a legend like Debbie.
Words: Cholo Martin