LCSC brings back Jerry Pruitt as volleyball coach
Lewis-Clark State College found a familiar face to take over its women’s volleyball program in former coach Jerry Pruitt, Warrior athletic director Gary Picone announced Friday.
This will be Pruitt’s third stint at LCSC. He served as head coach for the Warriors for part of the 2003 and all of the 2004 season before resigning to take a high school teaching position in Utah. Pruitt also was an assistant at LCSC during the mid-1990s.
“It feels good to be back,” says Pruitt, who has spent the last 18 months in Moab, Utah working with elementary special education students. “It’s a great opportunity to get back in the coaching world.”
“We were sorry to see him go and we are thrilled to get him back,” LCSC President Dene K. Thomas says. “Jerry did a great job while he was here.”
Pruitt replaces Erin Mellinger, who resigned in December after compiling a two-year record of 12-41. The Warriors were 8-19 last fall and placed sixth in the eight-team Frontier Conference standings.
Pruitt took over as head coach in October of 2003 after previous coach Jason Zoeteman resigned in the middle of the season for personal reasons.
In 2003, the Warriors went 27-9 and advanced to the championship game of the Region I Tournament before falling one victory short of the national tournament. Pruitt led the team to a 9-2 record with the only two losses in the Region I tournament.
After losing several players from that team, Pruitt and the Warriors battled injuries and inexperience to finish the 2004 season with a 9-19 mark, including a 4-10 record in Frontier Conference play. The team featured two seniors and the rest were all sophomores and freshmen.
“We feel fortunate to have someone of Jerry’s caliber leading the program,” LCSC athletic director Gary Picone says. “He was part of building our tradition in the past and we’re looking forward to achieving that same status.”
Pruitt previously served as an assistant under former Warrior coach Kip Yoshimura during the program’s glory days when LCSC was a regular in the region tournament and qualified for nations.
Pruitt left Yoshimura’s staff at LCSC in 1996 when he was named head women’s volleyball coach at Francis Marion University. He guided the Patriots to three consecutive Peach Belt Athletic Conference regular-season titles and an 87-12 record, using his ties to the Lewiston-Clarkston area for recruiting. He was named the PBAC Coach of the Year in 1996 and 1998. In 1998 Pruitt guided Francis Marion to its first NCAA Division II Tournament appearance.
He then spent two seasons at head coach at Radford University in Virginia. Pruitt guided the Highlanders to consecutive Big South Conference regular-season titles and a 47-18 record. He was named Big South Conference Coach of the Year in 1999 and Virginia Sports Information Director's Volleyball Coach of the Year in 2000. His 2000 team compiled a 28-7 record, advancing to the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to his first stint as head coach at LCSC, Pruitt spent 1½ years reunited with Yoshimura at Gonzaga University, working as an assistant coach.
Pruitt is a 1992 graduate of Weber State University, where he served as student assistant coach for the women's volleyball team while playing three seasons for the men's club team. From Weber State, Pruitt moved on to work as an assistant coach at LCSC.
Pruitt says he knows several of the current LCSC players, having recruited some as well as working with them in summer camps.
“I kind of feel like I left in the middle of something so I am glad to have the opportunity to come back and finish it,” Pruitt says.