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We should all take a note out of Chris Tamas’ book

A how-to guide for coaching — and winning.

Craig Pessman/Illinois Athletics

If Chris Tamas ends up sharing this article, I bet he’d do the following two things:

  1. Say that this isn’t just about him.
  2. Credit all the people who this is also about.

Well, that’s at least what he did on Tuesday afternoon after he was AVCA Northeast Region Coach of the Year.

It’s so nice how he thanked everyon—— oh, there’s more!

Wow, he really made an effort to include all the peop——ah, he’s not done?

Well, that’s gotta be it. He’s such a great leade——is there really one more?

Illinois’ second-year volleyball coach — the one who has led the Illini to a second-straight Sweet 16 and the team’s first 30-win season since 2011 — made an effort to thank literally everyone when he was honored as Coach of the Year on Tuesday.

Nobody would have batted an eye had he just retweeted the original tweet, or if he even ignored the honor on Twitter altogether. But that’s not how Chris Tamas rolls. Instead, he thanked everyone — from assistant coaches Rashinda Reed and Alfred Reft; to the team’s SID, Libby Knight; to videographer Joel Schmidt; to the Director of Marketing and more — for helping the team’s success.

Now, it certainly seems like again I’m talking like a mouthpiece for the University. Let me assure you that isn’t the case, and Tamas actually deserves all of the recognition he won’t individually accept.

When it came time for Selection Sunday last week, Tamas invited the media to his house to be there with the team. While that certainly isn’t unusual — a team being covered as they find out where they are about to play next — it was his house! It wasn’t some local bar or Huff Hall, but he invited us inside. Talked to us casually before the show, treating everyone as if he’s your friend.

He’s active on Twitter. If it wasn’t apparent via those tweets, he loves GIFs. He loves Spike Squad. Nothing is more important right now in coaching college athletics than being able to relate to your players, and Tamas can do that better than anyone.

Take for instance a moment during Saturday’s second-round matchup with Louisville. Illinois, struggling late in the second set, called a timeout. As I was announcing the game for Big Ten Network from the press row, I'm pretty sure I read Tamas’ lips as he talked with his team. He said, “Isn’t this fun?” And he meant it. Maybe I can’t read lips, but that’s what it looked like to me. Wouldn’t you want to play for that coach?

Of course, winning cures all. The Illini have 30 wins and are two wins away from a Final Four appearance next weekend in Minnesota. If the Illini had been losing over the past two years with Tamas in charge, would we still be singing his praises? Probably not as much, if anything.

But we don’t have to worry about that.

Tamas’ formula is a winning one.

Or, maybe it’s everyone’s formula, not just his.

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