SENIOR STAFF WRITER
Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, UNO volleyball Assistant Coach Gina Mancuso has managed to stay close to home while playing at the professional level.
Mancuso began playing volleyball when she was 12-years-old and graduated from Papillion-La Vista High School as a star. After winning back-to-back state championships in 2007 and 2008, Mancuso was named the 2008 Gatorade National Player of the Year.
“It was one of the biggest surprises in my life,” Mancuso said about the award. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Choosing to compete at the collegiate level, Mancuso continued to play volleyball for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. During her career, the Huskers were consistently ranked among the nation’s best teams–they competed in the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2010, and made two Elite Eight appearances in 2009 and 2012.
“There’s a standard of expectation and greatness there,” Mancuso said of the Huskers.
Despite never winning a national championship, Mancuso continued to improve her resume. She was a two-time AVCA All-American; a two-time AVCA first-team all-region selection, and a two-time unanimous first-team All-Big Ten pick.
Once she graduated from UNL in 2013, Mancuso took her talents to the professional level where she played with different squads in Puerto Rico, Azerbaijan, Poland and Germany.
In 2017 Mancuso reached out to Micah Rhodes, a friend she met while playing for the Huskers, and now an assistant coach for UNO volleyball. Mancuso said she wanted to volunteer to stay in shape and get some coaching experience.
“It was never really a goal of mine to be a coach,” Mancuso said “As I like to say, I make plans but then God laughs.”
Although Mancuso is preparing for another professional season, this time in Indonesia, she thoroughly enjoys volunteering for UNO’s coaching staff. Unfortunately, Mancuso has to leave before the Mavs season ends, but she will continue to support them overseas.
“They have a lot of potential this year,” Mancuso said about the team.
During her second year on board, the Mavericks are currently 8-7 and an impressive 4-0 at home in 2018. Mancuso will have to leave the team in early October as she continues her professional career. As the Mavs continue to compete for a Summit League Championship, she hopes to return next year and coach again.