HOUGHTON - Michigan Tech head volleyball coach Matt Jennings announced Tuesday the hiring of Douglas Han as a new assistant coach. Han replaces Nicasio Paquiz, Jr., who accepted in March the top assistant job at NCAA Division I Eastern Michigan.
EMU coach Kim Berrington, who Jennings has known for a while through his prior experience at Pittsburgh, had approached Paquiz about the opportunity, and Jennings encouraged him to pursue it.
"It happened the right way," said Jennings, who added he delayed the hiring process of Paquiz's replacement to avoid adding more change to the spring practice season.
"I really just continued to teach the things we were going to teach all along," Jennings said. "... I took some time before we even posted the job. I did some thinking introspectively and thought about what was going to be the right fit, what did the team need."
He wanted somebody who brings a lot of energy, somebody he could trust and somebody who would likely spend more than a year with the team. After contacting the people he trusted, some sources in Chicago led him to Han, who applied and stood out among the three applicants interviewed over the phone.
A campus visit during finals week of Tech's spring semester only confirmed Jennings' desire to hire Han, and he did so shortly after.
"One thing I've learned over time as an assistant, the relationship among the staff is so important for a lot of reasons," Jennings said.
"It means more than functioning well with each other, it shows solidarity to the team."
Han will officially start July 1.
"I had been looking to further my career after being a volunteer assistant at Northwestern (University)," Han said. "Matt Jennings worked with and we know a lot of mutual people in the volleyball world. When I talked to him and met with him, we hit it off right off the bat and went through the formal process. I met the team and I think everything just formed organically."
Han spent the 2010-11 season at Northwestern, a Division I member of the Big Ten Conference. The Wildcats won 21 matches overall and were ranked in the top 25 nationally for several weeks during the season.
"When I was part of that program, we had a really experienced team. I definitely gained a lot of insight learning to coach the highest caliber athletes," said Han, a native of Niles, Ill.
Most recently, Han was an assistant coach at William Woods University, an NAIA member located in Fulton, Mo. He has also spent five years coaching at the youth national club level, including various age groups with Wildcats Jrs. in suburban Chicago.
The 26-year-old graduated with a degree in kinesiology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and played for the Illinois men's club team. In high school he earned all-state honors as an outside hitter for Maine East High School in suburban Chicago.
"He's in the early stages of his coaching career, but he has a cluster of very valuable experiences. I feel like he's going to be all-in," Jennings said.
Han said he isn't married and doesn't have any kids, so there's nothing to prevent him from being all in with the Huskies. While he comes from a city/suburb environment, he said he had no problem adjusting to Fulton, Mo., which has fewer than 13,000 people.
"I like the pace of life ... and it's a beautiful area. I love the outdoors and I had a great time (during the campus visit)," said Han, who even added that he just bought new snow tires for his car last week.
Han will be largely responsible for recruiting - utilizing his Chicago and other Midwest connections - but in terms of what positions he'll coach and his exact duties, that's still to be determined.
"He'll start up here in July, and once he gets here we'll hammer out the specifics," Jennings said. "... He's worked with pretty much all the positions. We're on the same page with systems, and I'm comfortable with him applying his knowledge and coaching to anything, though I'm certainly not going to forego my coaching of the setters."
"I'd like to think I can coach just about every position," Han said.
"I'm pretty confident with what I can bring to the table."
Shortly after Han starts July 1, Tech volleyball will host its youth camps, July 8-12. For more information, visit michigantechrecreation.com/camps/volleyball.