Wolinski’s contract not renewed by Eastern


Sean Hastings | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern volleyball coach Sam Wolinski shakes the hands of Tennessee Tech players following Eastern’s win Oct. 20 in Lantz Arena. Her contract was not renewed by Eastern as it was announced Thursday afternoon.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor


Eastern volleyball coach Sam Wolinski’s contract was not renewed by Eastern. Wolinski coached the Panthers for the last three seasons.

Eastern sports information director Rich Moser confirmed her dismissal over the phone Thursday afternoon.

Wolinski was hired in March 2015.

During her tenure, Wolinski coached the Panthers to a 36-56 record, which included two trips to the OVC Tournament, but also included a record-breaking season for losses at home in her second season. Eastern went 0-12 in Lantz Arena in 2016.

“I’m grateful to (Eastern athletic director) Tom Michael and EIU to have had the opportunity to serve as the volleyball coach here,” Wolinski said. “I’m thankful for my time and wish the girls all the success in the world.”

Wolinski coached the team to the OVC Tournament in her first season, but it ended with a first-round loss to Tennessee Tech. Eastern made the tournament in 2017, but was knocked out in the second round by Murray State. The Panthers got past Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in the first round.

Eastern finished with a 15-15 record in 2017.

One of the highlights of the Panthers’ 2015 season, Wolinski’s first year as head coach, was when they handed Murray State its first loss of the season as it came into Lantz Arena with a perfect 9-0 record.

Before coaching at Eastern, Wolinski spent two years (2013-2014) as the assistant coach at Mississippi State, 14 years (1999-2012) as a head coach at Division III Rhodes College, where she won two Coach of the Year awards. She spent one year as an assistant coach at Earlham College in 1998.

Eastern was her first Division I head coaching position.

The Panthers spent their 5-26 as a rebuild season as there were five freshmen on the roster and one transfer junior and no seniors.

Eastern showed life throughout the 2017 season and that warranted its run to the second round of the OVC Tournament.

Eastern graduates four seniors at the end of this academic year including Maria Brown, Hayley Richardson, Allie Hueston and Josie Winner.

Brown spent three seasons playing under Wolinski.

“I’m just really excited to see the program grow,” Brown said. “I’m excited to come back next year and watch the girls play. They have so much potential and whatever coach they get will be lucky to have them as a group.”

The Panthers have just two seniors returning to next year’s roster with the return of Taylor Smith and Abby Knight.

Both players played their only three seasons with Wolinski as their head coach.

“I just appreciate all the time and effort that (the Panther’s coaching staff) put in over their three years here at EIU,” Smith said.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]