UST mourns passing of former coach Cole Tallman

UST mourns passing of former coach Cole Tallman

Former St. Thomas Volleyball head coach Cole Tallman passed away last week after a battle with cancer. His death was announced Friday in a Facebook posting by his son, Cory.

Tallman's women's and men's volleyball teams won 800-plus matches at a .664 winning percentage during a coaching career that spanned parts of four decades.

His first volleyball job was at his alma mater, Urbana (Ohio), where he graduated in the late 1970s. He later was a volunteer coach with the Georgia Bulldogs. He coached at all three NCAA levels including as Division I head coach at Furman (S.C.) and Gardner-Webb (S.C.). His volleyball career included jobs at universities and colleges in Ohio, Georgia, the Carolinas, Texas, Iowa and Minnesota.

Tallman coached 18 All-America honorees and two NCAA Postgraduate scholars. Several of his former players went on to careers in teaching and coaching.

In 1999, Tallman was hired as the Tommie head coach. His St. Thomas teams compiled a 94-37 record over four seasons, with two MIAC regular-season championships and one Coach of the Year honor. His 500th career victory was achieved here in September 2000.

Tallman was one of just three permanent head coaches for St. Thomas volleyball over the last 25 years. Dave Orren coached from 1983-1997; Penny Thompson Starkey was interim coach in 1997; and current head coach Thanh Pham has guided the program since 2003, with Orren one of his longtime assistants.

One of Tallman's standout Tommies during that era, All-America setter Jane Gibbs, received her first coaching experience with him after she graduated as an assistant at Division I Gardner-Webb. Gibbs is now head coach at Augsburg University. Nine-time Division II national champion coach Brady Starkey of Concordia University also was one of Tallman's assistant coaches over several seasons before taking over the Golden Bears in 2003. St. Ben's head coach Nicole Hess was an assistant coach here in 2002 with Tallman's Tommies to start her coaching career.

Tallman also remained close with other Minnesota coaches, including former Minnesota and Macalester head coach Stephanie Schlueder, and Bethel head coach Gretchen Hunt.

Born on an April Fools Day, Tallman was known for his sense of humor and adventurous spirit. In a February 2015 newspaper interview, he joked about his numerous coaching stops over his career. "It looks like witness protection, doesn't it?" Tallman joked. "But I don't regret any decision I made."

Tallman explained that his many coaching opportunities allowed him to meet and associate with even more interesting people.

He is survived by his son and two daughters. Memorial services have not been set.