Jill Hirschinger, a five-time America East Coach of the Year, enters her 19th season as head coach of the University of New Hampshire volleyball program, marking her 36th season as a head volleyball coach.
Hirschinger was named the head coach of the Wildcat volleyball program in the spring of 1996 by former athletic director Judy Ray, in the second season that UNH regained its varsity status. In her 18 years at UNH, she has become the program’s winningest coach and the first to surpass the 200-win milestone as she currently has 285 victories. Not to mention she has guided the Wildcats to 20-win seasons seven times during her tenure in Durham. Hirschinger earned her 200th career win at UNH when the team captured a 3-1 win over Southern Methodist University in the deciding match of the UNH Tournament on Sept. 15, 2007.
Hirschinger has spent the past 35 seasons as a head coach at both the Division I and II levels. She has accumulated an impressive 714-519-10 overall record, owning a .582 winning percentage. Hirschinger’s 714 career-coaching victories rank her 12th on the all-time active NCAA wins list. She recorded win No. 700 on Sept. 20, 2014 against URI in a five-set battle. Hirschinger reached the 600 win plateau in the second-to-last match of the regular season in 2006 with a 3-2 win over America East rival Binghamton on Nov. 11 at Lundholm Gymnasium. She also coached a pair of All-American honorable mentions (Aly Coler and Beth Cole) during her tenure at UNH.
Last season, the Wildcats earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament by virtue of winning the 2013 America East Championship with a 20-12 overall record and 12-2 in conference play. UNH competed against sixth-ranked University of Southern California in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. New Hampshire tallied a season-long nine game winning streak, spanning from Oct. 26 through Nov. 23. The Wildcats captured 27 out of 33 sets and registered six straight-set matches in the nine-game span. A conference-high seven UNH student-athletes, led by Player of the Year Morgan Thatcher were recognized at the America East annual banquet. Furthermore, Hirschinger and her coaching staff were bestowed the Coaching Staff of the Year award.
Hirschinger won the 2003 America East Coach of the Year after guiding the program to its second-straight championship with a 23-12 overall record and a 12-2 mark in conference play. UNH faced No. 1- and eventual national champion- Southern California in the team’s third appearance in the NCAA Tournament under Coach Hirschinger.
In 2002, Hirschinger guided the ’Cats to a 23-11 overall record and the team earned its second America East title in school history, along with the second NCAA Tournament berth in UNH history. The Wildcats fell to Big Ten champion Minnesota in four games, becoming the first team in America East to win a game in the NCAA Tournament since the NCAA went to a 64-team format.
In 1998, Hirschinger led UNH to a 24-11 overall record with a perfect 14-0 mark in America East action. The Wildcats had a banner season, defeating conference rival Hofstra for the school’s first-ever America East championship and first appearance in the NCAA Tournament against the nationally ranked University of Arkansas. The Wildcats tallied the second-most wins in school history with 24 (26 in 1980). Hirschinger also earned America East Coach of the Year for the second year in a row, while several players garnered all-conference awards. She also guided the ‘Cats to a school-record 14 consecutive wins in 1998.
Hirschinger took over the Wildcat program in 1996, when the team was in just its second year at the Division I varsity level since 1984. She led the young team to a 6-26 overall record, which included victories in four of the Wildcats’ final six matches.
She was appointed to the 17-member AVCA Board of Directors in May of 2005. Currently, she is a member of the AVCA Head Coaches Committee. In addition, she was a member of the regional rankings committee, the chair for the AVCA All-America committee and the America East Volleyball Coaches Committee and served three years as the Senior Women’s Administrator in UNH’s Athletic Department from 2001-2004.
Before coming to Durham, Hirschinger spent the previous 12 seasons at Ferris State University, located in Big Rapids, Mich. Hirschinger registered 11 winning seasons and ended her stay at Ferris as the winningest coach in Bulldog history with a 330-151 (.686) overall record. She led FSU to seven Division II postseason playoff appearances and recorded a milestone 400th victory in that span. Hirschinger was named Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year (GLIAC) on four occasions, regional Coach of the Year three times, and led the Bulldogs to an NCAA Final Four appearance in 1987 and Elite Eight appearance in 1989. She also coached nine All-Americans and two academic All-Americans while coaching the Bulldogs. Hirschinger also owns the NCAA record with 46 consecutive wins, while at FSU. In addition to her coaching duties at Ferris State, Hirschinger served as an Assistant Athletic Director and was in charge of NCAA compliance at the school. She was a member of the NCAA Division II national volleyball committee, and also served on the All-America and National Golf Committees. Hirschinger was inducted into the FSU Athletic Hall of Fame in the summer of 2008.
Prior to her arrival at Ferris State, Hirschinger began her collegiate volleyball coaching career at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. During her five-year stint at Drake, she guided the NCAA Division I program to two appearances at the U.S. Volleyball Association’s National Tournament and an Iowa Division I state title. She compiled a 79-90-10 (.469) record during her tenure at Drake.
A 1979 graduate of Utah State University, Hirschinger compiled an impressive athletic resume during her collegiate career, excelling in volleyball, garnering all-conference, all-region and team captain recognition while helping the Aggies claim the AIAW Division I national championship and Collegiate Classic North America Cup championship in 1978. Hirschinger was also a standout in track and field, qualifying nationally (1976-79) in the javelin and placing 10th in 1977. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education at Utah State. In the winter of 2008, Hirschinger and the rest of the 1978 National Championship team were inducted into the Utah State Athletic Hall of Fame.
Born in West Allis, Wis., Hirschinger graduated from West Allis Central High School and attended New Mexico State University for one year. A two-sport athlete at New Mexico State, she led her team to a 10th-place finish at the National Volleyball Championships in 1975.