Old Westbury, N.Y. — A legend in NYIT coaching is retiring from that role.
Gail Wasmus, who ranks 11th among active Division II women's volleyball coaches in career wins, informed her team in an early afternoon gathering on Tuesday that she is stepping down as head coach after 33 seasons.
Wasmus will remain with NYIT Athletics as associate athletic director and senior woman administrator.
NYIT will immediately begin the search for Wasmus' successor as head coach.
"I'm incredibly honored to have coached such a fantastic group of young ladies for the past 33 years," Wasmus said. "I'm even more proud of what they've done off the court than on the court."
As for the timing of her decision, Wasmus added: "I think I can better serve the athletic department in more of an academic role and continue to mentor not just the volleyball program, but all of our student-athletes. And I think this is a special group of volleyball young ladies who really deserve a coach 100 percent of the time."
As word spread about Wasmus' coaching retirement, tributes poured in from around the region.
"It is hard to imagine not seeing Gail Wasmus on the sideline of the volleyball court at NYIT next season," longtime New Haven volleyball coach Robin Salters said. "She has been a strong and steadfast competitor both at the conference and NCAA regional level for many, many years. Gail's impact on NYIT as a whole, not just the volleyball program, has been immeasurable. I congratulate Gail on a tremendous career as a volleyball coach and wish her the best of luck in this next stage in her athletics career."
Said Molloy coach Kevin DesLauriers, who previously coached opposite Wasmus while at Dowling College: "Gail has always been the ultimate competitor — never a team you wanted to meet come playoff time. She always found a way to get her team believing in her passion for the game, and it showed every day in the way her teams competed. Gail's passion for the game extends well past it, though, into real life skills. Life skills is truly where she has made the difference in these young athletes' lives. I am sad to see her leave the coaching aspect of her career, but am truly thankful she is staying in athletics to help the next generation of administrators, coaches and athletes. Gail and I conclude most of our conversations with the same line, 'Until next time friend.' That truly defines who she is — a professional colleague to those around her."
In addition to coaching NYIT volleyball for 33 seasons, Wasmus also served as the department's women's basketball coach for the first dozen years of that program's existence. Those 45 seasons of service to the department exceed all the other active head coaches at NYIT combined.
Wasmus produced a 638-428 volleyball record and led the Bears to 13 NCAA tournament appearances. NYIT earned its first NCAA East Region title in 2015 and its first East Coast Conference tournament championship the following year.
She was an accomplished three-sport student-athlete at Ashland (Ohio) University, playing basketball, softball and volleyball. She became the school's first female All-American in basketball and went on to become part of the first class of women inductees into the school's Hall of Fame.
She even played one year of professional basketball for the New Jersey Gems in the Women's Professional Basketball League, while coaching volleyball and basketball at NYIT and pursuing a master's degree.
Wasmus was hired by NYIT at the age of 21, when she was named women's athletic director as well as head coach of volleyball and basketball.
In the senior woman administrator role, she serves as an advocate for the students' academic well-being. She also helps ensure compliance with Title IX, the gender-equity law. Wasmus oversees programs such as Cubs to Bears, which helps younger student-athletes transition to the collegiate lifestyle at NYIT. She also spearheads volunteerism among student-athletes.
"Whether she likes it or not, Gail is my first stop when dealing with anything because of not only the institutional knowledge she brings, but also because of the respect she commands in every situation," athletic director Dan Vélez said. "She has taught me a lot in my time at NYIT, and I know for a fact that the lessons I have learned over the past three years pale in comparison to the lessons she has bestowed upon countless student-athletes, staff members and coaches over her illustrious career. Above all I am proud to call Gail not just a friend but a mentor."
In addition to the Ashland Athletics Hall of Fame, Wasmus has been inducted into the NYIT Athletics Hall of Fame. She also is an inductee of the United States Slow Pitch Softball Association halls — both New York State and nationally — and the ASA New York State hall.
"Gail Wasmus has long exemplified a level of unmatched commitment to her school, her program and her players that can serve as a model for others," said St. John's volleyball coach Joanne Persico, a longtime friend. "Her influential leadership and passion for sport is contagious. She has helped advance the athletic department of NYIT, and her program sits upon the top of the league year in and year out. Coach Wasmus' passion for NYIT and our sport is clear. Her legacy is and continues to be each and every player, and all the individual lives she has changed in a positive way."
Release provided by NYIT Sports Information Department.