Friday, September 8, 2023


 Back when Debbie Humphreys began her coaching career at Stephen F. Austin all of us had to actually pay attention to which area code we were calling each time we picked up the phone. Today’s players have no concept of this, but we had “in area” calls, “long distance” calls and all those phone numbers with area code 800 that were considered “toll free”.  No matter where you were located, you could call a business or some form of organization that was out of your area with no additional long distance rates if they had an “800” area code.

 Debbie Humphreys has coached from the portable phone era to the call waiting period of home phone usage to the flip phone and now smart phone era. One number keeps getting dialed: 1-800-LEGACY.  Humphreys really didn’t need her 800th win to cement her place in NCAA Volleyball coaching history.  That cement has long dried and championship upon championship built over the top of it.  Coming into 2023, SFA has appeared in the NCAA Tournament in three of the last five calendar years.  In one of those other two years, the ‘Jacks hosted an NIVC round and the other year was the nastiness known as the “COVID Year”.

 A very long time ago – actually the first year of the blogs existence in 2009– I wrote this as Humphreys approached 500 wins:

 “So, quick and dirty math... 23 wins per year for 10 more years puts her at just over 700 career wins. Projecting 23 wins across fifteen more seasons elevates the projected total to around 830. And, if health and desire permit...what if Humphreys coached 20 more seasons at SFA? I know...that's getting way out there...but if the past indicates the future the projected total would rise to over 940 wins. Amazing to just think about, huh?”

 You can read the entire post here.  It’s quite long and contains my reflections about being around the club for the better part of a decade.  So, if “reflections” was what I called it in 2009, then what is it now? So much time has elapsed.  So much additional time.  So many more wins, players, years, joys.

 That quote from 2009 predicted 830 wins by the end of 2024.  I can hardly believe I wrote that and yet – here we are.  The “830” number may turn out to be quite accurate.  We’ll know when we get to the end of next season, but where I missed was the implication that possibly that would be the end.  Sitting here now, I can’t fathom that Humphreys is truly near the end.  Even my wild card thought in that post had her coaching through 2029, a concept that now seems entirely within reach, if not highly probable.  Of course, as with everything, there is still that caveat of health and desire permitting, but both of those areas seem positive with Humphreys going into her 36th season at the helm of our club. 

 I wrote a shorter article when both Humphreys and long time rival Brenda Gray of Sam Houston State were both approaching 700 career wins.  That one is posted here and dates back to August 28, 2019.  Life must have been particularly busy in 2015 as I didn’t formally write about career win 600.

 The list of accomplishments is so long that really just reminding myself of how much I’ve been blessed to see and letting you know of where Humphreys ranks on all-time lists seems like the best use of both my personal and professional thoughts. 

 When Humphreys gets win 812, I will have worked for the team for HALF of her career wins.  That sounds absurd to me given that I feel like I’ve been around this team for so long.  Well, 18 seasons is a long time, but, of course, easy math tells us that’s just half of the Humphreys’ era.

 When I graduated from Baylor as an undergraduate, Humphreys had 55 career wins.  When I finished grad school at SMU, she was on the verge of 200.  The season I began coming to games as a faculty member she began that year with 270.  When I got the job as public address announcer while we were playing in Johnson Coliseum, she was sitting at 406.  When the blog first appeared in this space, her tally was 484.  When we began doing radio for select road matches in 2015, Humphreys had amassed 596 wins.  When SFA got their ESPN contract and I began working the televised matches from Nacogdoches, she was at 616.

 When I got to travel to my first NCAA Volleyball Tournament as a member of the media, Humphreys total at the end of that year was 694.  When I was blessed to call an NCAA Tournament match on the radio in the very building in which I graduated from Baylor she had 725 wins.  Last year, when I made the circle back to do it again, she ended 2022 with 793.  Now, today, against Boise State in Flagstaff, Arizona she coached in her 800th career victory.

 Debbie Humphreys is 20th on the all-time victories list for NCAA Division 1 Volleyball coaches.  She is fourth among all active Division 1 coaches.  The only active coaches with more wins than Humphreys are Mary Wise (Florida), Chris Poole (Florida State) and John Cook (Nebraska).  If  you’ve spent even a meager time around the college volleyball ranks you will recognize all of those names as pillars in the sport. 

Of the 20 coaches that have amassed 800 career wins, eight of them have made it to 900 and Cook would seemingly join them.  Only five coaches have 1000+ wins at the Division 1 level.  My quote from 2009 made it sound like 940 would be a real long shot.  It doesn’t seem quite like that now.  My original prediction of 2029 being about the time where that could happen is still a reasonable pace.  The only difference is that in 2009 that was 20 years out.  Now, it’s only five and I certainly could see Humphreys doing this for five or more years.  Only she really knows how long she wants and/or will be able to coach.  But for now, there seems to be little slowing down and the mind and energy is still certainly there.

I get to witness on a season by season basis her level of desire to teach, to coach and to win.  From where I sit, her competency, desire, competitiveness, and passion are still running really high.  The chase for 900 – even 1000 – will be amazing to witness.

For now, congratulations Coach Humphreys on 800 career wins.  A mighty accomplishment indeed!

Finally, as if the quote from October 25, 2009, above wasn’t enough, look at how I ended that article fourteen years ago (the “eight” is now “twenty”, by the way):

“Some perspective...only eight coaches in the HISTORY of college volleyball have won over 800 matches. I hope I am there....on the mic... to see it happen.”

Yep, I was on the mic and there to see it happen. 

Thanks, Coach.  Sometimes wishes do come true.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Travel Diary For September 7 to Flagstaff, AZ

10:09 PM PT  OK, that's a wrap.  Final prep sheets for broadcasts done for tomorrow.  I'll study a little bit more during the day, but the player sheets are done.  It's past midnight back in Texas and it's time for me to go to bed.  I'm feeling really confident that #800 for Coach Humphreys is happening tomorrow.  I've got a post ready to go tomorrow night when she gets it.  Let's hope it's 801 by this time tomorrow.  For those that read in this space, I hope it connected you to what our (long!) travel day was like today!  Axe 'Em!

9:12 PM PT  Spotting sheets for early match against Boise State complete.  One more round to go and we'll call it a night.  Time for caffeine as now I need to finish all match notes for the call against Northern Arizona. So far, it's been a 17 hour day with a nap squeezed in there for about 90 minutes.

8:17 PM PT  Back at the hotel after Arizona St sweeps Northern Arizona - who barely put up a fight.  All three of the set scores were very lopsided - a very quick match.  Everyone is in for the night and it is now past 10 PM "Texas" time, so most of the players are out of the lobby and ending their day.  Some of us will stay up to work on various things - myself included.  It's been a very long day, obviously, but I've still got an hour or more to work on spotting sheets for the matches tomorrow.  The long travel day continues!

7:40 PM PT   Club left to go back to the hotel with Arizona St up 2-0 at the half.   Madi, Evan and I stayed behind to watch the rest of the match

6:55 PM PT  The club is in the gym to scout a little at the Northern Arizona / Arizona St match.   First set was uncompetitive as Arizona St rolled to a 25-11 win.  Originally the gals were scheduled to only stay for one set but that one was so fast that they’ll stay and watch a little more

6:26 PM PT  Mongolian stir fry for dinner was a HUGE hit.  Everyone loved it.  All you can eat and we all did some damage.  on to the gym for scout

4:53 PM PT  Power Nap complete. Let’s see if that gets me thru the evening.  Bus leaving for dinner at 5:00 PM PT

3:24 PM PT  Free time until leaving for dinner at 5:00 PM PT

3:15 PM PT  Moving from walk throughs - which were done in a hotel hall - to the meeting room for going over notes

2:53 PM PT  Check in at hotel complete.  Going down to meeting room for walk throughs

2:29 PM PT  Two hour practice done. Loading up to check into hotel, then a few walk throughs and downtime during the late afternoon. I feel a Power Nap coming on.  Tons of prep still for me to do for broadcast tomorrow but I may need to rest and hit that late tonight   

12:30 PM PT We have arrived on campus in the Rolle Center for practice

12:07 PM PT  Terrain change as we’ve gone from cactus and desert to pine trees and forests during the two hour drive that’s seen us climb in elevation quite a bit   Just a few more miles to Flagstaff.  We’re headed straight to the gym   I mean, why waste any time?

10:16 AM PT  We hit up a sandwich shop near the airport called Shortys.  Delicious.  Great sandwiches and now we are fueled up to head to Flagstaff.

9:41 AM PT  With a little walking back and forth we got to the correct side of baggage claim to find our charter.  All accounted for and on the bus! 🚌 

9:29 AM PT  Gotta hit up baggage claim for our medical bags that were checked before finding our charter bus 

9:09 AM PT  Ya know… it takes a long time to get off a plane when your seat is like five rows from the back. 🤷‍♂️

8:54 AM PT  On the ground in Phoenix.  Feels like it’s time for lunch and it’s not even 9 AM  🙁


9:19 AM  Airborne.  Flight is off to a good start as my TMobile cell plan scores me free wifi with streaming on the flight.  Aisle seat.  No middle (blocker) seat next to me.   Free tunes.  The life, man.   The broadcaster life.  

8:49 AM  Sitting on the runway   Ugh.  Just parked waiting for our turn.

8:28 AM  We are all on board and ready to pull back from the gate.  Got an aisle seat with no middle seat passenger next to me! Score!!

7:29 AM  We are all arriving at the gate   Some of the gals looking for the nearest Starbucks and other associated coffee or snack shops.  Smooth sailing and at the gate with plenty of time before boarding

7:18 AM  Moving through security and headed to the gate  all smooth so far.   Less activity in airport this early   

7:01 AM  Bus drops us off at the terminal and we head to kiosks to print boarding passes and then on to security 

6:18 AM  Loading up.  Checking out.   Everyone headed for the bus in the dark.

6:08 AM  The hotel opened breakfast for us early   That was cool   Now everyone can get proper fuel before heading to the airport 

5:50 AM  Per usual, Associate Head Coach Evan Amstutz is first to rise as when I got to the hotel lobby he was already downstairs working.  We leave in 20 minutes for the airport and the players are using every minute - the first ones just now trickling down with their things.

11:37 PM Wednesday - Yeah, I am still awake.  Night owl.  Hours ago, the club got back from a late BBQ run for our postgame meal after that insane five set win at North Texas.  Just loaded up today's interviews on Twitter(X) and am 95% done with my "Debbie Humphreys 800th career win post", which I hope I get to load in this space on Friday night.

Follow along on Thursday the 7th as we travel to Flagstaff.  I'll keep you up to date on every move the club makes all day long right here in this running hour-by-hour post.  

Bus leaves the hotel in Denton for the airport at 6:15 AM tomorrow morning!