Kari Thompson has a 35-11 record entering her second full season as head women's volleyball coach at North Dakota State. After joining the Bison as an assistant coach in 2006, she was named interim head coach October 2010 and became the the
11th head coach in program history January 2011.
In her interim role in 2010, Thompson went 9-2 and led the Bison to
their third straight Summit League championship and second NCAA tournament in
three years. NDSU finished 20-11 overall
and tied for first place with a 14-4 record in The Summit League.
She was named Summit League Coach of the Year in 2011, her first full season at the helm, as the Bison went 26-9 and won a fourth straight Summit League title with a 16-2 mark. NDSU made another NCAA tournament appearance and achieved the program's highest ranking at No. 42 in the NCAA Rating Percentage Index.
was a 2010 recipient of the American Volleyball Coaches Association's
"Thirty Under 30" award recognizing the top young coaches in the
"I'm thrilled to
continue to be a part of an institution with a rich tradition of academic and
athletic excellence and a strong commitment to the volleyball program,"
Thompson said. "This great
volleyball community combined with a great volleyball facility provides an
exciting environment to showcase these athletes."
Thompson was the head
coach of a USA Athletes International team that competed in the June 2011 European Smash
Tour in Italy and Austria. She
says it was an enjoyable experience, but one that made her appreciate the
quality of NDSU's program.
"I think we have a very
special group of players here," Thompson said.
"It's the work ethic. When people
come here, they don't come to sit on the beach.
There's no beaches here. They
definitely come to play volleyball, go to school, and work hard."
Thompson herself has
embodied that same work ethic. She has
climbed the career chain since beginning as a volunteer assistant in 2003 at
Green Bay, where she was a three-year volleyball letterwinner.
Before coming to NDSU, she
spent two years as a graduate assistant for volleyball operations at Alabama,
where she was in charge of the off-court duties such as stats and video
breakdown, and travel. She says the
behind-the-scenes work was a unique training opportunity.
"I also got to watch every
single practice and really pay attention to how players interact with each
other, and how they respond to different coaching. You can only see so much as one coach when
you're involved on the floor, so when you're sitting back and watching like I
was, I think I saw a lot more and learned a lot about the game in those two
Thompson spent her first 4
1/2 years at NDSU as the team's top assistant before being thrust into the head
job midseason. Consider it a trial
run. "I feel like I was very well
prepared to step into this even though I may have not thought I was ready when that happened. It makes me
very confident now."
A native of
Amherst, Wis., she began her collegiate career at Concordia-St. Paul and
graduated from Green Bay with a bachelor's degree in communications and the
arts in December 2003.