Nancy Somera Named Head Coach of Fairfield Volleyball

Nancy Somera Named Head Coach of Fairfield Volleyball

Nancy Somera will be the ninth head coach in Fairfield Volleyball history.

Nancy Somera will be the ninth head coach in Fairfield Volleyball history.

The coaching veteran previously led programs at Oregon State, South Carolina, and Johnson & Wales.

A veteran with more than 30 years of coaching experience, Nancy Somera has been named the head coach of Fairfield Volleyball, as announced on March 20 by Vice President for Athletics Paul Schlickmann. Somera has head coaching experience at Oregon State and South Carolina, and most recently built the program at Johnson & Wales to a perennial contender at the NCAA Division III level.
 
"After a comprehensive national search, we are excited to announce Nancy as the next leader of Fairfield Volleyball," said Schlickmann.  "Nancy has an extensive and accomplished background as a student-athlete, coach, and administrator at multiple levels of collegiate volleyball. She is widely respected in the sport as a teacher of the game and has a proven track record of building and sustaining successful programs. Nancy's holistic approach to coaching aligns with our University and department values to recruit and develop young women who achieve not only on the court, but in the classroom, in the community, and in their professional and personal lives after volleyball. I am confident that Coach Somera will continue to build upon the great tradition and success synonymous with Fairfield Volleyball."
 
Somera's most recent head coaching tenure was at Johnson & Wales, where she oversaw the most successful stretch in Wildcats history from 2014-21. After a 17-16 record in her first campaign in Providence, her 2015 squad went 23-8 overall and 10-1 in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference to begin a streak of six consecutive GNAC Championships and NCAA postseason appearances. The Wildcats went undefeated in conference play in five straight years, reaching the NCAA Division III Elite Eight in 2017 and the Sweet Sixteen in 2018 and 2019. In eight seasons at Johnson & Wales, Somera compiled a record of 190-43 (.815) overall and 76-6 (.927) in GNAC play. She was named the 2017 AVCA Division III National Coach of the Year and a three-time GNAC and AVCA New England Region Coach of the Year. She also coached the first five All-Americans in program history. Somera had additional responsibilities as an assistant director of athletics and the senior woman administrator at Johnson & Wales.
 
"It's an exciting time to be joining Fairfield Athletics. The brand-new Mahoney Arena is an impressive venue for our student-athletes to train and compete in, and from a fan's perspective, its amenities provide a fun and entertaining experience for students and Stags supporters," said Somera. "I appreciate Paul Schlickmann's and Alison Sexton's belief in me as the next leader of the program. My competitive values line up with those that have been envisioned for the department under the administration's leadership, and it is evident that the staff is committed to providing the best possible student-athlete experience it can. I believe Fairfield's growing academic reputation nationally, along with its emphasis in the holistic development of its students, will attract top talent to the program. I look forward to growing the program's strong tradition of success."
 
Johnson & Wales was the third head coaching stop for Somera. After a standout playing career at the University of Southern California, as well as eight seasons as an assistant for the Women of Troy, Somera took the reins at Oregon State for the 1999 season. Leading the Beavers in the most competitive conference in the nation, she guided her 2001 Oregon State team to the program's first NCAA postseason berth since 1983. That year's team earned Pac-10 wins over UCLA and Washington State, and swept conference foes Cal, Washington, Arizona State, and rival Oregon.
 
Somera moved on to the Southeastern Conference in 2005 for a two-year stint as the head coach at South Carolina. The Gamecocks earned multiple wins over the SEC's perennial powers during that time, including an upset of the eventual conference champion – and Sweet Sixteen qualifier – Florida in 2006.
 
When Somera stepped away from the collegiate ranks – turning over the South Carolina program to her husband, Ben Somera – she was never far from the sport. Somera directed the Midlands Volleyball Club in Columbia and later coached at Blast Volleyball Club in Providence. She also served as a scholastic head coach at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, and began a career as an editor and writer for Natural Awakenings Magazine.
 
As a student-athlete, Nancy (Hillman) Somera was a four-year starter at the University of Southern California. She helped the Trojans to the Final Four in 1985, was a two-time All-Pac-10 honoree and was selected to the USC All-Decade Team for the 1980s. Somera received the 1988-89 Pac-10 Medal, awarded annually to each member institution's outstanding senior male and female student-athlete based on the exhibition of the greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership. She earned a BA in journalism in 1989 as well as an MS in education from USC in 1994.
 
Somera and her husband Ben have two children. Their son Sam is a teacher at The Hotchkiss School and their daughter Maile is an All-Ivy League libero and Academic All-District student at Yale.

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