COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Laura “Bird” Kuhn, a former American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Assistant Coach of the Year, has been named the head volleyball coach at Texas A&M, athletics director Scott Woodward announced. Kuhn, previously the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Kansas, becomes the sixth volleyball head coach in Texas A&M program history.
Kuhn joins the Aggies after a seven-year stint at Kansas, where she was instrumental in helping the volleyball program elevate to new heights of achievement, including the program’s first NCAA Final Four appearance in 2015 and the Jayhawks’ first Big 12 Conference championship in 2016. Kuhn succeeds Laurie Corbelli, who resigned after serving 25 years at the helm of the Aggies.
“Not only is Bird an exceptional recruiter, but she has an uncanny proven ability to connect with, and develop, student-athletes,” said Scott Woodward, Texas A&M Director of Athletics. “She brings an energy, intensity, and no-nonsense approach that we are confident will resonate with our current student-athletes and recruits. We are thrilled for her to become our next head volleyball coach and we welcome her to the Aggie family.”
“I want to first thank Scott Woodward and Texas A&M for this exciting opportunity,” Kuhn said. “I also want to thank all the people who have mentored me and gotten me to this point in my career. Relationships and investing in people have always been my guiding light. I greatly appreciate my family and closest friends who have invested in me and been a part of this journey so far."
“When this position opened, I just knew this is where I wanted to be. I am excited for the future of this program and to build on the foundation and tradition already established by the Corbellis. I believe it is possible for this program to have a prominent presence, consistently at the national level."
Kuhn has earned a national reputation as a winner, having made an indelible impact at every stop of her career as an assistant coach while helping multiple programs reach new levels of success.
In seven seasons as an assistant coach at Kansas, the Jayhawks constructed a combined record of 152 wins with 38 losses (.800 winning percentage), surpassing the 20-win milestone every year. Over that span, the Jayhawks have made six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, serving as host of first and second round matches four times. Kansas also has finished in the top three in the Big 12 in each of the last six years, including one outright first-place finish (2012). The Jayhawks have been ranked in the final AVCA Top 25 poll in four of the last six years, including an all-time high No. 3 final ranking in 2015.
In the five seasons prior to Kuhn’s arrival as an assistant coach in 2011, Kansas had suffered four losing seasons. The Jayhawks went 15-14 and finished eighth in the Big 12 Conference in her inaugural season before running off the most successful six-season span in school history.
In 2015, Kuhn was promoted to associate head coach, and she was honored by her coaching peers and selected the AVCA National Assistant Coach of the Year following KU’s historic Final Four run that year in which the Jayhawks upset No. 1 Southern California in the regional finals while finishing the season with a school-record .299 hitting percentage.
Since Kuhn’s arrival at Kansas in 2011, Jayhawks head coach Ray Bechard was named Big 12 Coach of the Year for four times (2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016). In addition, Jayhawks players have garnered a combined seven first-, second-, and third-team AVCA All-America honors as well as nine honorable mention awards. In 2015, two Kuhn recruits who are Texas natives (Kelsie Payne and Ainise Havili) became the first Jayhawks in program history to earn first-team accolades. Payne, Havili and Pflugerville, Texas, native Madison Rigdon, who earned AVCA All-America Honorable Mention in 2017, were all members of Kansas’ 2014 recruiting class that was ranked 15th in the nation.
Kuhn, 35, was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Miami (Florida) for three years (2008-10) before joining the Jayhawks staff. In her first season with the Hurricanes, head coach Nicole Lantagne-Welch was named AVCA Region Coach of the Year and ACC Coach of the Year as Miami went 26-6 overall and finished with an all-time best 14-6 record in ACC matches. Kuhn helped the Hurricanes reach the NCAA tournament in each of her final two seasons, and outside hitter Lane Carico became the program’s first AVCA All-American in 2010.
Kuhn began her college coaching career in 2007 at Appalachian State, where Matt Ginipro was named the Southern Conference Coach of the Year and Brittany Zahn collected SoCon Player of the Year honors.
Kuhn played collegiately at Georgia Tech, where she was a four-year letterwinner and three-year starting right side hitter from 2001-04. During her playing career, the Yellow Jackets went a combined 113-25 (.819), won three Atlantic Coast Conference regular season championships and one ACC tournament title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament every year. Both the 2002 and 2004 teams reached the Sweet 16, and in 2003 the Yellow Jackets advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history and also became the first ACC team to reach a regional final. Kuhn earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from Georgia Tech in 2005.
A native of Tiffin, Ohio, Kuhn was a two-sport star at Calvert High School, where she excelled at both volleyball and basketball. While in high school, Kuhn earned Junior Olympic All-America honors for the Toledo Volleyball Club in 2000.
A press conference introducing Kuhn will be held Wednesday, Jan. 10 at noon. Location is to be announced.
Visit 12thMan.com for more information on Texas A&M volleyball. Aggie fans also can keep up to date with the A&M volleyball team on Facebook and on Twitter and Instagram by following @AggieVolleyball.
What others are saying about Laura “Bird” Kuhn:
“We are so proud of Bird and all that she has helped us accomplish here at the University of Kansas during the last seven years. I know she is thrilled about the opportunity to continue to develop Texas A&M’s rich tradition in volleyball. Her enthusiasm for the sport, work ethic and exceptional ability to build relationships are just a few reasons why she will do an outstanding job leading the Aggies. The energy she will bring to College Station will be noticeable.”
Ray Bechard, Head Volleyball Coach, University of Kansas
“Coach Kuhn is a leader with vision, passion and energy. She has had a remarkable impact everywhere she has coached as a recruiter, a trainer and a mentor. I expect her to reenergize the A&M program and take it to new heights. The SEC and the rest of the country better be ready for the Aggies in the future.”
Bond Shymansky, Head Volleyball Coach, University of Iowa
(Former head volleyball coach at Georgia Tech, 2002-08)
"As I reflect on the 25-year career of Laurie Corbelli, I am struck by the numerous accomplishments, memories and positive impacts she had on so many Aggies. And presently I am so proud of Bird for earning this well-deserved opportunity. She put in the time and effort and made a genuine difference in every program she has been a part of. There is no doubt she will add her imprint to Aggie Volleyball, and I look forward to watching the program develop under her leadership."
Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at UC Santa Barbara
“Texas A&M has hired one of the best up-and-coming coaches in the country. Bird is a great person and I have no doubt will do a great job leading the Aggies into the future.”
Kirsten Bernthal Booth, Head Volleyball Coach, Creighton University
“I’m excited for Bird and for Texas A&M Volleyball. She brings a high level of energy, competitiveness and intensity which will be contagious in the gym, along with being a great recruiter. I’m exceptionally proud of what she’s done in her career, and can’t wait to see that success carry into being the head coach at A&M.”
Matt Ginipro, Head Volleyball Coach, Appalachian State
The Kuhn Resume:
Name: Laura Lafleur Kuhn
Born: November, 17, 1982
Hometown: Tiffin, Ohio
High School: Calvert High School, Tiffin, Ohio
College Education: Georgia Tech University, Bachelor of Science, Business Management, 2005
2001-04 Georgia Tech (middle blocker/right side hitter)
Associate Head/Assistant Coaching Career:
2011-17 Associate/Assistant Coach, University of Kansas (record 167-52)
2008-10 Assistant Coach, University of Miami, (record 67-28)
2007 Assistant Coach, Appalachian State University (record 19-14)
2015 AVCA Assistant Coach of the Year