Move over Mack, step aside Augie; Texas has a new 300-win man.
Jerritt Elliott, head coach of the Longhorns volleyball team, notched his 300th win at Texas this past weekend with a victory over Illinois. While it’s a huge accomplishment for any coach, the usually modest Elliott deferred all of the credit to his athletes.
“It’s an honor, and I’m blessed to be here but the athletes are the ones that are responsible,” Elliott said. “It just means I’m a little bit older and have had some great athletes in this program that we’ve done a great job of managing.”
Elliott became the second volleyball coach to bring Texas a national championship last season and earned coach of the year honors for his effort. Known as a relentless recruiter, he credits the staff’s ability to draw in the best talent for his success.
“Recruiting is your base in terms of your ability to create a great program,” Elliott said. “It’s a big part of it and we have to keep up with the times because it’s tough to keep a program at this level year-in and year-out. You never get rest.”
Since his tenure began in 2001, the Longhorns have made 11 NCAA tournament appearances, in part due to six top-two recruiting classes. He comes across as a no-nonsense coach, but there is nobody better at getting the most from his players.
“I think he is our base to all of our wins,” junior Haley Eckerman said. “That is where we start at and his coaching is where we come from and how we became so great.”
Elliott demands a lot on the court, which can make him tough to play for initially, but the team knows that he cares for his players more than anything.
“The first time I talked with Jerritt was in Puerto Rico, and I said in my mind, “‘Why he is so serious? I’m scared,’” freshman Pilar Victoria said. “However, now I can say that he cares about his players and I’m not scared.”
Elliott began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant at Cal State Northridge in 1993 and served as an assistant at USC for four years before eventually becoming the interim head coach in 2000. Volleyball in Texas wasn’t as big at the time, but the move worked out great.
“It’s very different [in Texas], I came out of California where volleyball is very big,’ Elliott said. “Texas is now one of the best recruiting bases in the country and we have more resources and more things that we can offer the student athletes.”
As a coach at the high school, college and even the national level, Elliott knows how to lead a program. Winning a national title last season was a big boost to his resume, but the job remains unfinished.
“For me it’s trying to build a program and create a legacy, and this is bigger than me, and at some point I’m going to step down so that the next coach can be successful at Texas and continue what we’ve built here.”
Under Elliott, Texas returned to prominence and will likely continue its success for years to come. Texas is currently ranked No. 6, and the pressure is on them as defending national champions.
“Now we’re at the point where if we don’t get to the final four and win a national championship it’s a disappointing year,” Elliott said. “If you don’t keep that milestone, then it’s a failed year and you can never rest. It can be overwhelming at times, but we’re in a good position, and it’s good to be here.”