Tom Tait Obituary – Tom Tait, a beloved figure in the Penn State community, passed away on Friday at the age of 86. Over four decades, Tait made significant contributions as a coach, mentor, and professor. Tait earned the title of the “Father of Penn State Volleyball” for his instrumental role in establishing both the men’s and women’s programs. He founded the women’s program in 1976 and successfully transitioned the men’s program to varsity status in 1977.
During his tenure as the head coach of the men’s volleyball team, Tait achieved remarkable success. Under his guidance, the Nittany Lions secured eight conference titles and made six appearances in the NCAA Final Four. In 1984, they even reached the National Championship match. Tait’s coaching prowess earned him numerous accolades, including being named the Eastern Collegiate Coach of the Year five times and the Volleyball Monthly National Coach of the Year in 1986. Throughout his career, Tait coached 20 All-Americans and maintained an impressive record of 336-97. His unwavering commitment to excellence set a standard of consistency for the program, making him one of only three head coaches in the program’s 48-year history.
Mark Pavlik, the current head coach of the Penn State men’s volleyball team, expressed his gratitude for Tait’s influence on the program. Pavlik, who played under Tait in the early 80s, credited him for transforming Penn State volleyball into one of the best programs in the NCAA. Tait’s impact extended beyond the team, as he played a pivotal role in shaping the culture and relationships with alumni. His dedication not only elevated Penn State volleyball but also contributed to the overall improvement of the sport in Pennsylvania during the 70s and 80s.
In addition to his accomplishments with the men’s team, Tait also served as one of the three head coaches in the history of the Penn State women’s volleyball program. He laid the foundation for the team’s success during his three-year tenure from 1976 to 1978 before passing the torch to Russ Rose. The program experienced immediate growth, with the Nittany Lions significantly improving their win record from six wins in their inaugural season to 25 wins in the second year. Tom Tait’s legacy as a coach, mentor, and professor will forever be cherished within the Penn State community. His contributions to both the men’s and women’s volleyball programs have left an indelible mark, and his impact will continue