FORT COLLINS, Colo. — CSU volleyball head coach Tom Hilbert is encouraging, smart and passionate.
He’s also ready to step away from the game he’s known all of his life.
"There’s this curve between your energy and the ability to put stuff into it, and where the program’s going," said Hilbert, reflecting on the end of his career as a collegiate volleyball head coach. "I think the program probably needs new energy and I need some new things to do."
He has 24 NCAA tournaments, six Sweet 16 trips and 12 Coach of the Year awards -- yet it’s culture that means most to him.
"The main objective I had was to build a program that was really big in this community. We did accomplish that," he said.
Hilbert has seen a lot of success with the Rams. He also mentioned the program’s first-ever sellout, which happened back in September against in-state rival Colorado, as one of his favorite memories.
At CSU’s last home game against Air Force, it was the fans that got to him emotionally.
At the end of the game, fans were holding up Tom signs and chanting, “Thank you, Tom! Thank you, Tom!” He was visibly taken aback and shed tears on the court at Moby Arena.
"That was really a very finite moment where I looked up and I said 'This is it. And this is a reflection of what we’ve been able to do in this community.' And I’m really proud of what Colorado State volleyball is today."
Hilbert has coached so many players throughout the years and it’s the relationships he’ll miss most, “I’m gonna miss being around young people. The energy they bring and being able to watch them grow up. Those things are really priceless.”
It's been 26 priceless years in Fort Collins, 39 years overall in the coaching business -- so it’s no secret that volleyball has been a staple in Hilbert’s life.
He says he is done coaching collegiate volleyball but he wants to give back to the game in some form.
"This game changed my entire life," he said. "It’s sent me on a path that I never could have imagined. Volleyball has really been everything to me and that’s why I wanna give something back to it, after I’m done coaching."
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