When Bob Bertucci stepped down as the women’s volleyball coach at Lehigh early this year, he knew that wasn’t the end to his coaching career.
Never the traditional mover from one job to another, not waiting to line up the next job first, instead he wanted to reset things a little, take some time off, coach at camps, tend to a couple new business ventures, and view the market.
Meanwhile, Sacred Heart was in need of a new men’s coach, and executive director of athletics Bobby Valentine was thinking about upgrading the program, making the head coach a full-time job for the first time. Valentine sought out Bertucci for some advice and ideas. One thing led to another, and for the first time in more than two decades Bertucci was coaching a men’s program, set to guide the Pioneers when their season opens in January.
“I think they’re ready to make the next step to committing to this men’s volleyball program,” said Bertucci, who was named the head coach on Oct. 22. “I was looking for something different, and this was completely different. It made sense to me.”
The move resumes a career that has collected better than 900 Division I wins at five schools.
Bertucci has been coaching since he was 23 and fresh off his time playing at Springfield College, and always has been a head coach at the college level. He began as the leader of the men’s program at Army West Point, and began the women’s program while he was there. He left to coach the women’s team at Tennessee, then returned to the northeast to lead the men’s and women’s programs at Rutgers-Newark, including an EIVA title, conference Coach of the Year honor and men’s National Championship tournament appearance in 1990.
He also coached the women’s team at Temple for 16 seasons – reaching the NCAA sweet 16 in 2002 when the Owls upset Penn State at Rec Hall – and spent the last seven years at Lehigh. He is more than two decades removed from coaching a men’s college program.
“I’ll enjoy working with the guys again,” said Bertucci, who also has earned Coach of the Year honors in the Patriot League and Atlantic 10. “That poses a whole new set of challenges, and problems, but enjoyment also.”
Bertucci also has spent time coaching with USA Volleyball, including time on the bench at the World University Games, and considers himself a dedicated teacher and advocate for education. He liked what he saw in Sacred Heart both academically and athletically, and knew there were few head coaching jobs available in Division I men’s volleyball.
“I’m just excited to be joining the staff and do whatever I can to help this program move forward,” he said. “It’s going to be a process.”
Volleyball has been a part of his life for decades. He graduated from and played at Springfield College, his wife is a former player, all five children played in high school and two played in college.
When he departed from Lehigh, he felt he had left the Mountain Hawk program on solid ground for years to come, and he hopes he can do the same for the Pioneers.
Valentine has those same hopes for the program.
“This is the first time in my tenure that we have had a full-time men’s volleyball coach,” said Valentine, who played 10 seasons of Major League Baseball and accumulated over 1,100 wins as a manager. “As with all of our teams, we want Bob to create an environment that affords our players to have a great Division I experience. Bob brings experience and class to our program and under his leadership we will gain the recognition that winning programs need.”