Northern Illinois volleyball head coach Ray Gooden talks about his team's 3-0 win over Western Michigan, marking NIU's first sweep of the Broncos since 2001, and the performance of Lauren Wicinski, who became the fastest Huskie to reach 1,000 career kills.
The Huskies defeated Iowa, 3-1, with deuce set victories in the first and fourth to clinch the match.
With 14 seasons and two Mid-American Conference Championships under his belt, four-time Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year Ray Gooden has put his stamp on the program right in tune with NIU Athletics' mission: "Developing Champions in the Classroom, Competition, and Life."
Ranking second all-time at in wins at NIU (264-184), the Evanston, Illinois, native has put together six 20-win campaigns, including winning 27 matches in 2010 and 28 in 2011. Twice in the last five seasons, Gooden has led the Huskies to MAC Regular Season Championships with four MAC Tournament Final appearances in the last six years.
Losing only one senior entering the 2016 season, the Huskies will seek another strong campaign as Gooden looks to become the program’s all-time leader in career wins, passing former coach Pete Waite (266). Coach Gooden is second amongst active coaches in the conference in career wins (264) and MAC wins (140) and fifth in all-time MAC wins.
After a 4-8 start to the 2015 season and battling key injuries in the heart of the season, the Huskies finished 14-2 in the Mid-American Conference to win the Huskies third Mid-American Conference Championship, defeating reigning champion Ohio along the way, snapping the Bobcats 33-match conference unbeaten streak. In the MAC opener on Sept. 25, NIU defeated Central Michigan, 3-1, Gooden picked up his 250th career win, becoming the second coach in program history to accomplish the feat.
The Huskies performance on the court brought several honors at season’s end as T’ara Austin was named MAC Player of the Year and Alexis Gonzalez earned Setter of the Year awards. Austin was also named to the AVCA’s All-Midwest Region team, along with honorable mention honoree, Jenna Radtke. A total of four Huskies earned All-MAC recognition while two players picked up two All-MAC Tournament honors. In the classroom, five Huskies were named to the MAC’s Academic All-MAC team.
Gooden picked up his fourth Coach of the Year honor at seasons end.
During the 2014 campaign, Gooden coached the Huskies to the MAC West Division title for the second time in four seasons. NIU finished the season with a 21-10 record, including wins over Louisville, Tennessee and Northern Iowa, and a 14-2 mark in the MAC. Individually, four Huskies earned All-MAC honors and seven individuals garnered Academic All-MAC accolades.
In 2013, Gooden guided a young roster - featuring six true freshman - to a 19-13 record and a spot in the MAC Tournament semifinals for the fourth consecutive season. With their 10-6 record in conference play, the Huskies reached double-digit wins in the MAC for the fourth-straight year.
In 2012, Gooden was named the MAC's Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season after leading the Huskies to a 21-15 record and 10-6 conference ledger. He also earned his 200th career win with a 3-0 sweep of Central Michigan on Oct. 27. The Huskies posted three All-MAC and eight Academic All-MAC honorees in 2012 under Gooden's leadership.
In 2011, the Huskies made an NCAA Tournament appearance and clinched the Mid-American Conference regular season championship. Gooden and Co. spend six weeks getting votes in the AVCA Top-25 Poll while taking home 2011 MAC Coach of the Year, the MAC Player of the Year, and the MAC Setter of the Year honors.
Gooden was also named Co-MAC Coach of the Year in 2006 after winning the MAC West Division regular season championship. Aside from individual coaching honors, Gooden has tutored his players to an impressive list of awards themselves. Since 2002, the Huskies have had five AVCA All-America selections, 30 All-MAC selections, and nine MAC All-Freshman selections.
Academically, Gooden's Huskies have received the AVCA Team Academic Award in each of the last four seasons, while he's had three Academic All-America selections, 18 Academic All-MAC selections, an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient, an NCAA Woman of the Year nominee and two Senior CLASS Award candidates.
Not only has Gooden's impact reached the Midwest, he's gone global as well. Over the past 10 years, Gooden has taken seven overseas coaching trips through USA Volleyball -- Europe (four times), Japan (twice), Argentina, Guatemala, and Brazil. He's also sent NIU players to Brazil, China, Italy, and Croatia to compete with the USA Volleyball A2 Junior National and Bring It Promotions/USA Development teams. Additionally, Gooden has served as a court coach and evaluator for the National Team tryout in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and a coach at the National College Team tryouts in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Gooden's other coaching stops include Loyola Chicago (assistant, 1997-2001), Lewis (assistant, 1997), Northwestern (assistant, 1996), and Thomas More (men's head coach, women's assistant, 1994-96).
As a player, Gooden earned two varsity volleyball letters at Ohio State and was named an All-Big Ten Conference club performer three times. An eight-time Prairie State Games competitor, he was named a three-time High School/Amateur Athletics Union Junior Olympic All-American and the 1989 Illinois High School Player of the Year out of Evanston High School.
At Ohio State University, Gooden earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics in September 1994. Gooden is married to the former Stephanie Lynn Scarpelli and they have two daughters, Gianna Ella and Zoe Lynn, and one son, Donovan Isiah.