Dynamic coach has won award three times.Melinda ("Minnow") Wrye-Washington, Columbia College Cougars volleyball coach, was named Coach of the Year by the Women's Intersport Network (WIN) for Columbia, Mo., an organization promoting the participation of girls and women in athletic and physical fitness activities.
Last year, Wrye-Washington's Cougars went all the way to the national championship game. Entering her 11th season with the Cougars, Washington posted a record of 394 wins and just 52 losses, an incredible winning percentage of .883.
Wrye-Washington was presented the award at the organization's 14th annual award luncheon Feb. 15 in the Southwell Complex. This is the third time Wrye-Washington has won the award. She also won in 2004 and 2007. Cindy Fotti, assistant director of athletics, won WIN’s mentor of the year award in 2008.
"It's a really nice award," said Wrye-Washington, "and I appreciate the honor. But it's really for the young women on our team, how they demonstrated being role models for girls in the community. I am really proud of my girls."
Wrye-Washington says the team's diversity, with players from five different countries — Egypt, Colombia, Brazil, Canada, Serbia, plus a coach from Kenya — also sends a strong, positive message.
"It [diversity] really represents Columbia College well," she says. "It's good for girls in the community to see people from so many different cultures working so well together."
Wrye-Washington adds that diversity can provide nail-biting moments. Middle hitter Ola Shawky Nosear recently returned home to Cairo, and the tumult of the Egyptian revolution and concerns for Nosear's safety "really hit our team, our family, hard," Wrye-Washington says.
Wrye-Washington was named head volleyball coach in 2000. Since then, the Cougars have finished first in their conference all but one year and won the American Midwest Conference (AMC) title 10 times. Wrye-Washington has established the Cougars as a dominant force in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA ) Conference.
Wrye-Washington played for three seasons at the University of Missouri where she was team captain. She transferred to Columbia College her senior year and was named the first NAIA First Team All-American in Cougar volleyball history. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in education in 1995.
Following her graduation, Wrye-Washington spent three seasons as head women's volleyball coach, head women's basketball coach and senior athletic administrator at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. In her final season, she led the women's volleyball Blue Jays to their first-ever NCAA Division III National Tournament. She recently earned a master's degree in athletic administration and sports management from William Woods University.
As for her nickname "Minnow," it was bestowed on her by her grandfather.
“When I was little, I was stubborn and never asked for help, whether it was tying my shoes or anything,” she says. “Gramps said I was a little fish in a big pond and that I should ask for help.”
When she asks for help now, her Cougars roar.
For a full bio of Coach Wrye-Washington, go to http://www.columbiacougars.com/volleyball/coachwashintgon.asp