Avery’s winning percentage of .712 in her 12 seasons as a collegiate head coach ranks among the top-20 active Division I coaches, while she also is among the nation’s youngest Division I coach with at least 200 career victories. A two-time league Coach of the Year, Avery has guided 34 All-League selections in her nine years at Valpo, including five Honorable Mention All-Americans. In addition, Avery’s squads have excelled in the classroom, earning the AVCA Team Academic Award seven times. For her efforts putting together a stellar program on the court and in the classroom, Avery was rewarded with a four-year contract extension in the summer of 2010.
The 2011 Crusaders maintained the program’s successful run, winning 20 matches while placing three players on the HL All-League squad, including a repeat Defensive Player of the year in Root. Last season came on the heels of a 2010 campaign which was one of the most successful Avery has had at Valpo, as the Crusaders finished 2010 with 27 victories, tied for the second-most wins in program history. The Crusaders advanced to the Horizon League championship match for the second time in a four-year span, and also boasted a school-record 11-match winning streak. Along the way, Avery coached the national statistical champion in digs/set, Taylor Root, who also was named the HL Defensive Player of the Year after setting new school and single-season records in the category. The Crusaders ranked fourth nationally as a team in digs/set and finished with the second-most digs in a single season in program history.
The 2009 Crusader squad continued the program’s run of excellence, as Avery guided Valpo to 22 victories and a runner-up finish in the league standings while coaching the league’s Newcomer of the Year. Last year’s success came on the heels of a 2008 season in which Avery led the Crusaders to wins over Notre Dame, Louisville and Wake Forest, as well as Sweet 16 participant Western Michigan. Avery guided the 2008 squad as it led the nation in both kills/set and assists/set while also coaching the Horizon League Player of the Year and two Honorable Mention All-Americans.
Avery faced a unique challenge in 2007, as the Crusaders transitioned to the more-competitive Horizon League while also facing potentially devastating injuries. But under her tutelage, Valpo finished tied for third in its first season as a league member and advanced to the league championship match for the fifth consecutive season. The 2006 squad looked to be a rebuilding year for the program, but Avery still led Valpo to 23 wins and new single-season records for kills and hitting percentage.
2005 was the final season for the first group of athletes who played for four full seasons under Avery as head coach, and the four seniors went out with a bang, closing their four-year careers with a 103-31 mark as Avery led them to their third straight Mid-Continent Conference regular season and tournament championships, as well as their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Along the way, the team ran their Mid-Con winning streak to 21 matches, while Avery etched out a spot for herself in the Crusader record books, becoming the program’s winningest coach with her 93rd win at Valpo on October 21.
Avery guided the 2004 version of the Crusaders to undoubtedly the most successful season in school history. The 2004 squad went 29-5, including a perfect 14-0 mark in Mid-Con action. Among the victories was an early-season win at rival Notre Dame, the first-such win in 24 years, and a school-record 14-match winning streak during the middle of the campaign. Avery earned her second straight Mid-Con Coach of the Year accolade as Valpo won the conference regular season and tournament titles en route to its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Avery led the 2003 Valpo team to the first NCAA Tournament appearance in seven years, cementing itself as a program to be reckoned with at the mid-major level. The 2003 Crusaders went 13-1 in conference play and 27-8 overall, including a thrilling five-set win at the ARC over Oral Roberts to claim the conference tournament title. For her efforts, Avery was recognized as the Mid-Con Coach of the Year. In 2002, Avery helped set the foundation for the success to come by guiding the Crusaders to 20 victories in her rookie season and a second-place finish in the Mid-Con standings.
Avery arrived at Valpo in 1999, joining then-head coach Becky Madden’s staff that faced the challenge of restoring a program that had followed up three straight 24-plus win seasons with back-to-back losing years in 1997 and 1998. In her three years as an assistant coach prior to ascending to head coach, Avery worked with Madden to rebuild the program and to recruit players to get the Crusaders back to the next level.
Before arriving at Valpo, Avery sharpened her coaching teeth in the NAIA ranks, serving as an assistant at Bethel (Ind.) College from 1995-96 before taking over as head coach in 1997. After going 43-10 and leading the Pilots to the NAIA Great Lakes Region Championship Game that season, Avery was named NCCAA Regional Coach of the Year. In 1998, Avery moved out west, leading Southern California College (now Vangard University) to four wins over NAIA Top-20 opponents with four freshmen starters, and finishing the year 12-14.
Before her coaching career began, Avery was a standout player, honing her skills at Mishawaka High School where she was twice named a High School All-American by USA Today and earned the Mental Attitude Award for the state of Indiana in 1990. One of the top athletes in the school’s history, Avery was inducted into the Mishawaka High School Hall of Fame in 2002.
Avery began her collegiate playing career at the University of Kentucky, playing on an NCAA Tournament “Sweet Sixteen” team in 1992. Following that season, Avery transferred to Ball State University and led the Cardinals to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. During her time at Ball State, Avery earned All-Mid East Regional, First Team All-Conference and was named Most Valuable Player of the MAC Tournament. In 1995, Avery recorded 408 digs (3.61/ game) for the Cardinals, then the second highest total and average in school history. Today, Avery ranks among the career leaders in 11 different statistical categories.
A 1996 graduate of Ball State with a degree in Special Education, Avery has played professionally on the Midwest Professional Volleyball Association Beach Tour since 1995, twice being named the tour’s Most Valuable Player (2000 and 2002).
Avery and her husband, Valpo men’s soccer head coach Mike, reside in Valparaiso with their two sons: eight-year-old Alex and four-year-old Kasongo (K.J.)