Less than eight months ago, he capped off his four-year Hawks career while celebrating the first-ever Div. III National Championship victory in Hawks men’s volleyball history—now, the SUNY New Paltz alumnus will attempt to guide the Purchase College Panthers to the same feat.
Christopher Husmann, 22, was named the new head men’s volleyball coach at Purchase College, as announced by Panthers Athletic Director Chris Bisignano on Nov. 17. Husmann replaces Antonia Sweet, who is now the head coach at Bard College.
The former middle blocker and four-year starter for the Hawks becomes one of the youngest head coaches in the country. As far as age, Husmann is only 11 days older than the oldest Panther, but that has not played a factor thus far, a concern many had.
“It’s hard to gain attention from everyone just being the same age, pretty much,” Husmann said. “So that could have been a challenge, but right now it hasn’t been, so that’s made my transition from player to coach very easy with all the players listening to me and doing what I say, without having argument with it. There hasn’t really been any challenges. There are nine kids on the team, so that’s a little bit difficult running practices. We’re working well with it.”
But the accolade is only one of many for Husmann in his prestigious career. Last season alone, Husmann was named American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) First-Team All-American, marking his second-ever All-America honor, while also earning Second-Team All-United Volleyball Conference (UVC) recognition. Outside the classroom, Husmann received the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Chancellor’s Award.
Most recently, Husmann worked as an assistant women’s volleyball coach at St. John’s University, a Div. I program, alongside former Hawks teammate Bryan Weber ‘13. Over intersessions from school, Husmann worked at Sportime Volleyball Club on Long Island, teaching private lessons to players ranging in age from high school to college.
Husmann, who initially thought of pursuing a teaching occupation, applied to the coaching opportunity at Hunter College, only to have Purchase call without any credentials submitted. After interviewing with the Panthers, Husmann was offered the job the following day.
“I still love the sport, still love playing the sport, but I didn’t want to go over to Europe and try out for a team,” Husmann said. “The next best thing to stay in the sport was coaching.”
After finishing his senior year as a member of a Hawks team that went 33-2, going undefeated against Div. III opponents, and only dropping two matches to teams in Puerto Rico, Husmann believes he could bring a winning mantra to the Panthers.
“I think that combining my winning attitude to their talent would formulate a good plan,” he said.
Last season, the Panthers reached the postseason for the first time in seven campaigns. They also improved on their 2015 record by a pair of wins, finishing with a tally of 12-17. With all but one player returning from last year’s roster, Husmann said his goals for this season is to make it back to the playoffs and advance past the first round of the Skyline Conference playoffs.
Being a four-year starter as the middle blocker position at New Paltz helped Husmann to see the game from on the court and from a sideline perspective. He believes that with the growth of the Hawks in the four years as a member of the team, there is definitely room to grow.
Husmann will be using his former head coach, Radu Petrus’ strategy of “serving tough” meaning a server should go for an ace or miss the serve, nothing in between, he said.
The season will officially start for the Panthers on Jan. 24 against Brooklyn College, but Husmann has already took the team through a preseason tournament, where the Panthers performed well.
“It’s a good start,” Petrus said. “I’m happy for my students when they choose to be in the volleyball field in the future. I’m excited. They gave him a big chance to prove his ability to work with students and to be successful. He learned a lot from our program.”