By Austin Boland-Ferguson
After reaching the proverbial mountaintop at Holy Family University, new volleyball Head Coach Jeff Rotondo looks to continue his success on the Division I level at Rider.
Following a 2018 campaign that lead Holy Family University to a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) championship and CACC Coach of the Year honors for Rotondo, Rider Athletic Director Don Harnum announced his hiring as head coach in April.
Rotondo’s Tigers posted a 90-71 record during his tenure with the team, which culminated in a conference championship in his last season.
Rotondo joins the Broncs’ staff after the 2018 squad made it to the semifinals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) tournament and Rider’s new coach looks to change the culture of the team to push things further.
“We’re revamping the culture from top to bottom,” Rotondo said. “Everything is going to be different from how we interact with each other to the backbone of the program.”
On a team loaded with newcomers to the volleyball program, Rotondo saw “good things” from his first time the team he will be coaching this fall.
“Their desire to keep the ball off the floor, the desire to get after it right away was pretty evident right from the get-go in the first couple of practices,” said Rotondo.
Rotondo isn’t going into the volleyball season without support. Harnum gave many reasons in his announcement of Rotondo’s hiring as to why he belonged at Rider.
“Rotondo emerged as the successful candidate due to his track record of success as a head coach, his passion for the sport of volleyball, his strong recruiting ties and his ability to provide our student-athletes with a positive, competitive and well-rounded experience,” Harnum said.
Rotondo’s success with volleyball coaching didn’t stop at athletics. Rotondo’s teams are well known for achieving in the classroom with exceptional grades.
Holy Family’s team grade point average was averaged at a 3.69, gaining top-25 honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Rotondo attributed his players’ academic success to his being an active presence in their academic activity.
“Daily conversations have to be part of the narrative,” Rotondo said. “We don’t just want to be a good academic team, we want to be the best on campus. It’s a daily conversation letting the athletes know that we’re going to follow up on their academics and making sure they’re getting the support they need.”
In terms of on-the-court success, Rotondo wants the Rider community to expect a solid team this coming season. He hoped that fans can “describe the team using three terms— hardworking, toughness and dexterity.”
“I hope [that fans] will come in and see a hardworking team,” Rotondo said. “We’re going to be tough, we’re going to be resilient and we’re going to look out for each other. We’re going to take care of each other really well.”
Rotondo said that the fans should be able to notice an attitude to the team. He hopes that the Rider community recognizes that the team “is going to have a certain grit and determination.”
“When they come to a match, there’s going to be a high level of energy, there’s going to be a lot of enjoyable, high-intensity volleyball and I hope that the fans or anyone that comes to see us sees us living inside the gym,” said Rotondo.
The Broncs compete in the Radford tournament in Radford, Virginia, on September 6. Gametime for the first match is 12:30 p.m.