Father of Penn State volleyball Tait named to EIVA Hall of Fame
In the weeks leading up to the EIVA Championship match, EIVAvolleyball.com will feature each of the six inductees into the league’s inaugural Hall of Fame Class. The EIVA is in its 40th year as the leading men’s volleyball conference in the east after being founded as the Eastern Collegiate Volleyball League (ECVL) in 1971 and changing its name in 1985.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Tom Tait is considered the father of the Penn State men’s and women’s volleyball programs – a pretty impressive feat considering the success of his "children." After leading one of the best men’s club teams in the nation, he turned the Nittany Lions to Division I status in 1977, also acting as the first women’s head coach from 1976-78. But with all of the success of the programs, Tait remains humble about his induction into the inaugural class of the EIVA Hall of Fame.
"Considering the large number of individuals who have made significant contributions to the development, improvement, and positive image of the ECVL/EIVA, the selection committee must have had a very difficult time narrowing the list of possible inductees down to the final six who are to make up the inaugural class," said Tait. "I am humbled and pleased that the selection committee saw fit to honor me along with such a fine group of men, each of whom I greatly admired and enjoyed working with and competing against while we all worked to make the league better."
He led the Nittany Lions to four NCAA Championships and coached 20 All-Americans during his tenure. He is a five-time Eastern Collegiate Coach of the Year and earned Coach Emeritus status from the EIVA in 1990.
"[Coach Tait] is absolutely deserving. He was one of the driving forces of putting [the ECVL/EIVA] together and holding it together, especially in the early years when there were a lot of club teams in the conference," said Frank Guadagnino, who played for Tait from 1975-1978. "Through his developing love of the sport, he was one of the main reasons behind eastern collegiate volleyball. The influence that he had on me was in understanding that when you do something, you need to do it 110 percent. That’s how I would describe him. Everything he has done in his life, he has done with great passion."
Tait still maintains ties with the Penn State programs and also travels around the country as a top cadre (instructor) with USA Volleyball’s Coaching Accreditation Program (CAP) among other involvement with the USA Volleyball programs. He was recognized by USA Volleyball as an All-Time Great Coach in the Pioneer Division in 2007 and was inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame in 2003, also receiving the AVCA Founders Award in 1999.
"[Coach Tait] is just so committed to volleyball. There are lots of stories of how he ruffled the feathers of the administration in order to get the men’s volleyball program its due. He was 150 percent committed and without that, we never would have gotten the program to where it is today."
By Jen Armson-Dyer, EIVA Communications Director