Vandal Volleyball Camps
When Debbie Buchanan took over the reins of the Idaho volleyball program, many UI faithful thought she would be just the person to take the Vandals back into perennial NCAA tournament contention. She had the background, the competitive fire, and the right connections to rebuild a storied program just four years removed from its last NCAA appearance. They just didn’t know how soon UI would become that competitive.
In just her fourth season as the Idaho head coach, Buchanan led the Vandals to their first NCAA appearance since 1995. What was even more impressive was the fact that the Vandals received their first ever at-large bid to the tournament. Idaho finished the 2003 season with a 19-11 overall record, its best finish since the 1996 season. The 2004 season yielded more success for the Vandals as they received their second consecutive at-large bid to the tournament.
Buchanan followed a long line of successful coaches at UI when she led the team to 16 victories in 2000. However, you have to go back nearly two decades to find a rookie Vandal coach who started as strong as Buchanan did that first year.
While the team continues to work toward the goal of volleyball’s "Big Dance," the NCAA tournament, the program and individual players have accomplished several notable milestones. The Vandals knocked off the highest-ranked opponent in the program’s history during the 2004 season as they topped No. 13 UC Santa Barbara. That followed Idaho's first ever victory over the Gauchos in 2003. Idaho also defeated No. 18 Santa Clara on the Broncos' home court in 2001 and No. 18 Utah State at Memorial Gym in 2000 to vault the team into the national spotlight. The Vandals ended their final campaign in the Big West with a 9-9 record and two first-team All-Big West selections.
"We are certainly moving in the right direction," Buchanan said. "When we took over here, we knew this wouldn’t be an overnight process. We wanted to build this program for the long term. The student-athletes we have now, the ones coming in the fall, and the ones we are recruiting are all helping build in the right direction."
Buchanan expected this kind of excellence, however, and it is easy to understand why. The adage is "success breeds success." A St. Maries, Idaho, native, Buchanan’s record, from high school player to student coach to full-time assistant, is superb. Simply put, she has won on every level, and won a lot.
"The support from the university, the athletic department, and the Moscow community are outstanding," Buchanan said. "I know what it takes to reach a very high level and Idaho has all of the ingredients to become an elite program."
Buchanan’s last stop as an assistant coach at Colorado State (under former Vandal head coach Tom Hilbert) saw the Rams reach the upper echelon of college volleyball. In 1999, CSU won a school record 30 matches – in 33 outings – and was among the final 16 teams at the NCAA Championships. Buchanan also helped the Rams win the inaugural Mountain West Conference Tournament title with a win over Brigham Young on the Cougars’ home court. With the success, CSU reached a 12th-place national ranking.
But Buchanan knew something of helping build programs before she arrived at Fort Collins. She served as Hilbert’s top assistant at Idaho in 1996, a season the Vandals went 25-6 and won the Big West Conference Eastern Division title.
Prior to coming to Moscow in 1996, Buchanan already had established herself as an up-and-coming member of the coaching ranks. A knee injury cut short her playing career before it ever really started at the University of Southern California. Rather than give up the game, she became a student assistant for the Women of Troy. She proceeded to learn the art of coaching from then-USC mentor Lisa Love. The precocious student performed a variety of tasks for Southern Cal, including management of vendor contracts, home event management, and assistance with booster club and fundraising events. In addition to off-the-court duties, Buchanan assisted with practices, camps and edited game film as well. Buchanan also coached a highly successful club program while still in college, serving two years as the director and coach of the Santa Monica Volleyball Club. She graduated from Southern California in 1996 with a degree in education with an emphasis in science.
Buchanan went to USC following a standout high school career in northern Idaho at St. Maries High School. In four years, she led the Lumberjacks to four consecutive state A-2 championships (1987-90). She was a three-time conference MVP (1988-90) and an all-state selection three years (1988-1990). After her senior season, she was chosen second-team all-America. Buchanan also played on St. Maries’ 1987 state basketball title team and was a three-time all-conference player for the Lumberjacks hoops squad.
Buchanan, who was born on March 7, 1973, has two children, Austin and Blake.
Steve Whitaker joined the University of Idaho volleyball program as an assistant coach in 2008.
"Steve will be a great fit and a great asset to our program," Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said. "He has a little bit of everything on his resume from club to a premier Division I teams in the University of Washington to head coaching experience at the community college level. His coaching ability will really be able to help us and he has worked and played with a lot of the best clubs throughout the area, which will go a long way to help with recruiting."
Whitaker brings a plethora of coaching experience from various levels of competition. He was a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Washington and helped the Huskies to the 2005 NCAA National Championship. The team also made the Final Four in 2006. His longest tenure was as coach of the Kent Juniors Volleyball Club, a member of USA Junior Olympic Volleyball. He coached one of the top ranked club teams in the country for four seasons. Prior to that, Whitaker spent two years as head coach at Bellevue Community College. He earned NWAACC Coach of the Year honors in 1998 and led the previously winless program to a winning record in his first season at the helm.
"This opportunity is exciting in multiple ways," Whitaker said. "Coach Buchanan is a great coach to work for and work with and I am excited about all of the great aspects of Idaho’s volleyball program. It is a great opportunity for me and I look forward to coaching in this environment and growing as a coach."
Whitaker also spent three seasons as a player-coach for the Seattle Athletic Club, a USA Men’s Open squad. His team was the top ranked squad in the Puget Sound Region and placed in the top 10 in the nation at two consecutive Open National Tournaments.
In a previous position, Whitaker coached current Vandals Anna McKinney and Sarah Conwell, as well as former Vandal Stacy Sode.
University of Idaho volleyball coach Debbie Buchanan announced the hiring of Brian Lamppa as assistant coach.
"It's an honor and a privilege to work at the University of Idaho," Lamppa said. "I want to thank Athletics Director Rob Spear and Debbie Buchanan for this opportunity. I can't wait to get started and meet the players and get on the road recruiting."
Lamppa was most recently the associate head coach at neighboring Washington State University from 2008-11, and has been coaching volleyball since 1999 with nine years of head coaching experience. Buchanan said Lamppa's experience and familiarity with the region will help the program right away.
"The great thing about Brian is he does have a lot of experience," Buchanan said. "The one thing that he has that a lot of the candidates didn't is he is so familiar with the northwest recruiting. His recruiting at WSU and the kids that they were going after are similar to the kids that we're going after. I don't think we're going to take a step back at all, I think we're going to take a step forward."
As recruiting coordinator at WSU, Lamppa recruited and developed two Pac-10 All-Freshman selections. During the 2009 season he helped the Cougars to a top-25 national ranking and wins over four top-25 teams.
Prior to his time at Washington State, Lamppa was the head coach at the University of South Dakota from 2003-08. While at South Dakota he guided the Coyotes to a school record 23 wins in 2007, the school's first two NCAA tournament appearances (2004, 2007) and the longest winning streak in program history (14 matches), while earning North Central Conference Coach of the Year honors and coaching two NCC Defensive Players of the Year in his tenure.
From 1999-2003 Lamppa was the head coach at NCAA Division III Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. He put together a 98-45 record with three 20-win seasons and a 30-win season. In 2002 he was the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
"For me, I wanted to hire someone that was a good fit, someone who would help us get better right away, who is a hard worker," Buchanan. "He's grounded in the right ways and I think one of the most important things is he is a really good fit."
Lamppa fills the vacancy left by Moritz Moritz, who took an assistant coaching position at the University of South Carolina.
Lamppa has his bachelor's degree in K-12 Physical Education from Cornerstone University, and his master's in Physical Education from Loras College. He has a wife Rachel, son Elijah (10) and daughters Bryn (5) and Drew (1 ½).