Karen Chisum is currently in her 39th season as the head coach of the Texas State volleyball program. She entered the 2018 campaign with an all-time record of 868-543-3 (.615). She also leads the longest-tenured coaching staff in all of NCAA volleyball (Divisions I-III). Associate head coach Tracy Smith is in her 17th year, while assistant coach Sean Huiet is in his 13th.
Chisum is the second active longest-tenured coach at one school across all three NCAA divisions. She is also the fourth-winningest female Division I coach in NCAA history. She is Division I’s third-winningest active head coach, and she entered 2018 just 32 victories shy of becoming just the seventh coach in NCAA Division I history to reach the 900-win plateau.
She earned her 800th career victory in her 35th season in 2014. The landmark triumph made Chisum just the 13th coach to reach 800 wins in NCAA Division I history and the 22nd collegiate volleyball coach ever to achieve the historic mark across all three divisions. Only seven other coaches in all three divisions have won 850 matches with one team.
Under Chisum’s guidance, the Bobcats have won seven regular season conference championships and eight tournament championships. The Bobcats’ regular season conference championships under her leadership began with the 1986 Gulf Star Conference crown and also includes Southland Conference titles in 1991, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2011. Chisum has led Texas State to tournament championships both in the SLC (1991, 1998, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011) and the Sun Belt Conference (2013). Her teams earned a berth in the NCAA Championship Tournament each year. Texas State also won the SBC West Division title in 2017.
For her merits, Chisum was selected Southland Conference Coach of the Year in 1991, 2000, 2003 and 2011 after receiving the same honor in the Gulf Star Conference in 1986.
With 40 total years at Texas State, starting out as an assistant coach for two seasons before taking over the program in 1980, Chisum is a standout Texas State alumnus. She holds a record in conference matches of 369-145 with a winning percentage of .718.
In addition to being a highly successful coach, Chisum also serves as an assistant athletic director in Texas State’s Athletic Department, a position she has held for the past 12 years.
The 2017 season was a banner year for Chisum and the Bobcats. The maroon and gold finished the campaign with 25 victories, a Sun Belt West Division title (14-2) and the first postseason victory in school history when they defeated Rice in the first round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship. TXST led the SBC in digs, assists, opponent hitting percentage and kills. Texas State finished with a school-record mark of six all-conference selections and three players of the year in Micah Dinwiddie (Defensive Player of the Year), Erin Hoppe (Setter of the Year) and Amy Pflughaupt (Newcomer of the Year). All three were joined by Madison Daigle on the All-SBC First Team. Dinwiddie broke the school record with 599 digs in 2017.
The 2016 rendition of Bobcat volleyball boasted a 21-12 overall mark with a 13-3 record in the conference. Texas State finished second in the SBC West Division and advanced to the semifinals of the SBC Championship. TXST had three All-SBC honorees in Kelsey Weynand, Lauren Kirch and Hoppe.
Chisum led Texas State to a 19-12 record in 2015 with a 13-3 record in Sun Belt action. Boasting an 11-2 record at home, the Bobcats finished the season tied for second place in the conference. Individually, both Jordan Kohl and Daigle achieved all-conference honors. Additionally, Sierra Smith finished her senior season as the all-time school leader in digs with 1,638. This came after Smith set the record for most digs in a season (548) and in a match (37) in 2013.
In 2014, Texas State made its second consecutive appearance in the SBC Championship match after winning the title in 2013, the team’s inaugural season in the Sun Belt. With the 2013 championship, Chisum’s volleyball team became Texas State’s first ever Sun Belt Conference Champion as 2013 was the athletic program’s first season in the Sun Belt.
Under Chisum’s tutelage, Kohl won SBC Freshman of the Year and Kirch joined her on the All-SBC team. Setter Caylin Mahoney and Kohl were both named to the SBC Championship All-Tournament Team, making it Mahoney’s second consecutive honor after being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player during Texas State’s championship run in 2013.
Chisum earned her 750th career victory in 2012 with a 3-0 sweep of Seattle on the road Sept. 29. The team also saw two players, Amari Deardorff and Ashlee Hilbun, recognized as All-WAC performers.
Chisum collected her sixth SLC regular season championship and seventh tournament title in TXST’s final season in the Southland Conference. She earned her fifth conference coach of the year award in 2011 to further cement her legacy as one of the elite collegiate coaches in America.
Her 700th career win came with a three-game sweep over Prairie View A&M in the team’s home opener Sept. 7, 2010. That victory came five years after Chisum earned her 600th career win with a sweep of Morgan State in the first match of the season on Sept. 2, 2005.
Chisum has coached numerous athletes who have received all-conference honors with the Bobcats, including 27 All-Southland Conference and six All-Sun Belt Conference First Team award winners.
Overall, 104 of her players have received all-conference distinction. Of those, 75 were in the Southland and 16 have been in the Sun Belt.
She has also led six conference players of the year. Kim Wells-Lauwers won the award for the Gulf Star Conference in 1986, while Stephanie Winn-Lane and Shenequa Bedford were named SLC Players of the Year in 1991 and 2000, respectively. In 2011, Calhoun added her name to the exclusive list. The 2017 version of the Bobcats saw two earn the accolade in Micah Dinwiddie (Defensive Player of the Year) and Erin Hoppe (Setter of the Year).
Chisum has also tutored four Newcomer of the Year selections. Kristy Braun-Rioux (1991), Krisha Neimann-Crosley (1993) and Jennifer Dallao (1999) were all chosen as SLC Newcomers of the Year, while Amy Pflughaupt was named the 2017 SBC Newcomer of the Year.
Several of Texas State’s players have garnered all-conference honors in multiple seasons. In 1997, Crosley became just the fourth player in SLC history and the first Texas State player to earn all-conference honors all four years. She earned All-SLC First Team honors as a freshman and sophomore and was a second team selection as both a junior and senior.
As proud as she is of her players’ honors and accomplishments on the court, Chisum also takes a great deal of pride in the fact that her players excel in both the classroom and the community as well. In 2015, the Bobcats won an SBC Team Academic Award, while five Bobcats were honored for their individual academic achievements.
Krystal Kolkhorst embodied Chisum’s ideals as she was named to the ESPN The Magazine CoSIDA Academic All-America Third Team. She was also selected as the SLC Setter of the Year and SLC Tournament MVP in 2004. She earned the SLC’s Scholar Athlete of the Year award in 2004. She was also named to the 2017 Texas State Athletics Hall of Honor, which is the highest distinction bestowed to former student-athletes.
As a squad, the volleyball team has won the Emmitt P. Shelton Academic Excellence Award three times. The award is given annually to the top Texas State men’s and women’s athletic teams with the highest cumulative grade-point average.
Chisum’s career as a volleyball coach began as an assistant at Goodnight Middle School in San Marcos. She moved up the coaching ranks when she was named an assistant at San Marcos High School before becoming the head coach at New Braunfels High School. Chisum led the Unicorns to a Class 3-A State runner-up finish in 1976, coaching former Texas volleyball and basketball standout Nell Fortner, who later served as head coach of the 2000 USA Olympic team that won a Gold Medal. Fortner retired as the head women’s basketball coach at Auburn. In 1980, Chisum was named Texas State’s fifth head volleyball coach and is still going strong more than three decades later.
Chisum’s influence in volleyball reaches far beyond Texas State. She serves as a member of both the NCAA and American Volleyball Coaches Association voting committees for regional and national rankings. She has also been a teaching clinician for various volleyball programs and camps throughout the United States.
In 2011, Chisum was named a Texas State Distinguished Alumni. The award dates back to 1959 when it was presented to Lyndon B. Johnson, a U.S. senator at the time. The laurel acknowledges outstanding accomplishments and leadership in the individual’s chosen business, profession or life work on a national or international level.
“When I received the call, I was honestly choked up,” Chisum said. “To be awarded the highest honor a Texas State alum can receive from this great institution is amazing. I am a true Bobcat and so very proud to be one. I owe so much to Texas State - not just for my education but for my career.”
In 1994, Chisum became the first female to be accepted for membership in the “T” Association’s Hall of Honor. During her intercollegiate days at Texas State, Chisum played on the softball and tennis teams. Induction into the Hall of Honor is the highest award a letterwinner at Texas State can receive.
“The two major reasons why people are chosen to receive the honor closely parallel how I feel about Texas State,” Chisum said. “I am proud to be affiliated with a group like that. Now, as the first female inductee, I am proud to open the door for other women. I’ve always been inspired by people who give back to the university.”
While Chisum gets the opportunity to impart her volleyball knowledge to her team on a daily basis, she has also passed along some in writing. She co-authored a book titled Developing a Successful Volleyball Program with former Bobcat volleyball player Stephanie Scott Jordan.