The One stop to find out about Polynesians in sports at the amateur, high school, collegiate and professional levels and much more.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Sam Atoa's 12th year as the head coach at Utah Valley University.
The 2010 season marks Sam Atoa's 12th year as the head coach at Utah Valley University. During his tenure, the Wolverines have posted a 251-115 overall record, including a 113-84 mark in seven NCAA Division I seasons.
In 2009, Atoa led his club to its best Division I season to date as his team won a school-record 22 games and finished 22-10 overall. He also led UVU to a second place finish in its inaugural year of Great West Conference play, as his team finished second in both regular season with a 10-2 record and at the GWC Tournament. Not only did his Wolverines excel in conference but also against Division I powerhouses as Atoa led his team to its first-ever win over a nationally-ranked opponent as UVU defeated the #17 ranked Utah Utes, for the first time, at home by a score of 3-1.
Atoa also led his team to a very successful NCAA season in 2007 as the Wolverines put up 21 wins (which was a school-record at that time) while winning their second consecutive Division I Independent Championship. For the success, Atoa was named the Independent Coach of the Year for the second time as UVU swept all four major year-end Independent awards.
Utah Valley breezed through the 2007 Independent Championship under Atoa, sweeping each of its three opponents en route to its second title in three seasons.
The 2007 campaign marked the third consecutive season that an Atoa-coached player was named the Independent Setter of the Year. Kristi Lindley received that honor after current assistant Lacee Koelliker won the award in both 2005 and 2006.
Atoa's spikers finished 17-11 in 2006, following up a school record 18-11 season and a Division I Independent Championship in 2005. During that Independent Championship season, UVU won 10 of its last 11 matches and Atoa was named the Division I Independent Coach of the Year.
In their second season as a Division I program in 2004 the Wolverines finished with an 11-16 record that included wins over Memphis, Central Florida, Montana, Portland State, and Boise State. As well as two wins each over fellow Div. I Independent teams: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Texas Pan American.
In the first year of Division I competition in 2003, Atoa led the Wolverine volleyball program to a 10-14 record, including wins over Div. I opponents Boise State and Pac-10 power Washington State.
Atoa took over the reins of the UV volleyball program in 1999 after six years as an assistant to former head coach Lori Richards. In his first season at the helm of the UV volleyball program Atoa led the Wolverines to a 32-12 record. UV just missed a trip to the national tournament with a tight, five-set loss in the district championship. Then, in just his second season at the helm, Atoa led UV to the national tournament and a third-place finish in the nation. The third-place finish equaled UV's best showing ever at nationals. Atoa was named Tachikara/AVCA Junior College National Coach of the Year and Region 18 Coach of the Year. In 2002, Atoa led the Wolverines to a sixth-place finish at nationals.
In May 2010, Atoa was able to take his volleyball team on a venture to his homeland of Samoa and also New Zealand. The idea came to Atoa after a devastating tsunami struck his home country in the fall of 2009 and Atoa knew that he had to do something to help. Prior to the trip, Atoa and his team collected thousands of items like medical supplies, hygiene kits, furniture, sporting goods and clothing in Utah and had them shipped to Samoa. When the team arrived they were able to deliver those items to help the people in need.
On the trip, Atoa led his team on a journey filled with service where they visited schools, hospitals, elderly care centers and focused to help aid the hardest hit areas of the tsunami. While on the trip, Atoa also took his team on a tour of New Zealand for seven days. There his Wolverines provided service too by visiting a children's hospital.
Atoa played volleyball for Brigham Young University from 1984 to 1988, and helped led the Cougars to three consecutive National Collegiate Club Championships. In 1989, Atoa started his coaching career at BYU assisting Coach Carl McGown when the program was officially sanctioned as an NCAA sport. In 1990, Atoa accepted a supervisor position in the Intramural program at Utah Valley and traveled back and forth between both schools for a year to fulfill his obligations. In 1991 Atoa accepted the position to be the women's volleyball coach at Utah Valley. In 1993 he accepted the position to be the Intramural Director and remained in that position until 2001 while still coaching.
Atoa was born and raised in Pesega, Samoa, and has a rich cultural and athletic background. He is highly honored and respected in his country, having received the Papalii or "Son of the King" title from the late Head of State of Samoa, His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II.
Atoa went to high school at the Church College of Western Samoa and graduated with high honors. After graduating from high school, Atoa went to BYU-Hawaii and played volleyball for two years. He earned his way through school by entertaining and dancing at the Polynesian Cultural Center. In 1982 he served an LDS Church Mission in the California San Jose Mission. Following his mission, he moved to Provo and attended BYU where and earned a spot on the club team that went on to attain national prominence.
Atoa and his wife, Lori, reside in Orem and are the parents of six children: Sam, Bradley, Devri, Andrew, Darci and Saini.