UWF volleyball announces coaching staff changes
Gandolfo promoted to assistant coach, Hicks and Gamwell sign on
PENSACOLA, Fla. – University of West Florida head volleyball coach Melissa Wolter has announced a trio of changes among her coaching staff that will take place beginning in the 2012 campaign.
The first task Wolter faced was replacing Marcela Cunha, who accepted an assistant coaching position at Louisiana Tech, an NCAA Division I program, at the conclusion of the 2011 season. Cunha spent four seasons as a member of the UWF coaching staff and helped the Argonauts to a 109-37 record during her tenure as a graduate assistant coach.
"I want to thank Marcela for all the years she gave to our UWF volleyball program,” said Wolter, who enters her 10th season as UWF’s head coach in 2012. “She was instrumental in the rise of Argo volleyball to the national ranks. We are all excited about this new opportunity for Marcela at Lousiana Tech, but she will be greatly missed."
Wolter chose a familiar face to take the place of Cunha. Patricia Gandolfo, who served as a student assistant coach from 2009-11, was promoted to a full-time position as assistant coach for the Argonauts.
“It’s a pleasure to be a part of the UWF volleyball program, and I’m really glad to be staying here as assistant coach,” said Gandolfo. “I’m always learning under Coach Wolter and I absolutely love this program. I want to stay as long as I can.”
Prior to her days in the coaching circle, Gandolfo was a standout player for the Argonauts, helping them compile a 54-21 record during her two years at the NCAA Division II level. During her farewell collegiate season, Gandolfo amassed a sizable haul of postseason accolades which included an AVCA All-American third team honor, spots on the All-GSC first team, the NCAA South Regional All-Tournament Team and the AVCA All-South Region first team. Gandolfo also received nine GSC Player of the Week certificates during her two-year West Florida Career.
Signing on for her first year in the volleyball coaching arena, Shawna Hicks comes to West Florida as a graduate assistant coach after a sensational collegiate career at Abilene Christian University.
“I am thrilled to have Shawna join the UWF volleyball staff,” stated Wolter. “She comes with five years of playing experience at the Division II level and knows what it takes to be successful on and off the court.”
From 2006-10, Hicks was one of the most feared front row players in the Lone Star Conference and in the nation as she was among the top four NCAA Division II players in blocks per set from her sophomore season until her days as a senior. During her farewell collegiate campaign, Hicks led the Hawks all the way to the NCAA Division II Southwest Region Semifinals. She was also bestowed with a pair of All-America awards during her career.
“I absolutely love it here. It’s been like a little family and it feels exactly where I’m supposed to be,” said Hicks. “Walking into any program you have to earn the girls’ respect and learn a whole new playing system and coaching style. There will be a little bit of a learning curve for me as far as figuring out exactly how this program works and just making sure that I’m doing right by everyone involved with the team.”
The final piece of the UWF coaching staff, Alanah Gamwell, will take the place of Gandolfo as a student assistant coach for the team in 2012.
“Alanah is going to be a great addition to our staff,” said Wolter. “Her mother and grandfather graduated from West Florida and she’s always wanted to follow in their footsteps. She brings a great background of high level volleyball experience that includes international competition as well as personal training experience.”
A product of Houston, Texas, Gamwell traveled overseas after graduating from Klein Collins High School to become a part of the Leeds Volleyball Club in Leeds, England. Her extensive European volleyball and studying experiences took her to destinations such as the United Kingdom, Austria and Spain during 2009-10. All told, Gamwell owns 11 years of volleyball experience.
Upon returning to the United States, Gamwell enrolled at Lone Star College and became a certified personal trainer and trained at 24 Hour Fitness and ran a pair of boot camps with Adventure Fitness Texas. Gamwell will be studying exercise science at UWF.
The Argonauts set out on their mission to obtain a fifth consecutive Gulf South Conference championship on August 31 when they play host to Lock Haven University and the University of Central Missouri as part of the Hemmingway’s Island Grill Invitational. First serve for the 2012 season is scheduled for 2 p.m.
For information on all UWF athletics, visit www.GoArgos.com.