Improvement. It has been a dominant theme throughout UAB head coach Melinda Claiborne's tenure at UAB. As coach Claiborne enters her fifth season at the helm of the Blazer program this fall, she will look to build on the team's success over the past three seasons.
For the third consecutive season, the Blazers improved both their overall and Conference USA win totals in 2003, going 14-20 overall and 6-7 in league play. UAB's 14 wins were the most since the 1997 season and the Blazers' six C-USA wins were the most since joining the league in 1995, and the most conference wins overall since 1993. In addition, Claiborne guided UAB to its second straight C-USA Tournament appearance.
In 2002, the Blazers increased both their overall and Conference USA win totals from 2001, going 13-20 overall and 5-8 in league play. Claiborne also guided UAB to a C-USA Tournament berth. In addition, UAB faced one of the most difficult schedules in the program's history in 2002, which included matches against seventh-ranked Florida and 19th-ranked Illinois.
During Claiborne's second season, the team showed steady improvement under her leadership, doubling its win total from the 2000 season. The Blazers posted a 12-17 overall mark in 2001. The team recorded C-USA victories over Charlotte, TCU and Tulane, and captured the championship at the Hurricane Invitational Sept. 7-8, 2001, in Coral Gables, Fla.
Claiborne came to UAB from the University of Georgia, where she assisted Jim Iams from 1997-99. In the gym, she was involved with the technical development of the athletes, primarily the setter's training. Claiborne's other responsibilities included coordinating recruiting, overseeing academic progress and assisting with the promotions and marketing of the Bulldog program.
Prior to her time with the Bulldogs, Claiborne was a part owner and scout for the National Volleyball Scouting Report. She also served as an assistant coach at the University of California-Berkeley (1992-94), the University of Nevada (1991-92) and Colorado State University (1990-91).
Claiborne was a two-time All-America setter at the University of Washington and twice received All-PAC-10 honors. She was named to the PAC-10 All-Decade Team in 1991. Claiborne received her bachelor's degree in psychology from Washington in 1990.
Claiborne played for the U.S. Junior National Team and participated in the USA Junior Olympic Championships (1982-85), AAU Nationals (1984) and the U.S. Olympic Sports Festival (1985). She also has professional playing experience, having played one season for Schweriner SC in Germany and two seasons with the San Jose Storm of the National Volleyball League.
"My priority is developing the young female student-athletes as both players and people by serving them as their coach, confidant, motivator and disciplinarian," says coach Claiborne. "While being committed to excellence, I strive to assist them in keeping their life priorities and activities in balance so they can achieve the highest level of success here at UAB and in the future.
"It is our goal to continue to establish UAB volleyball as the premier program in the state of Alabama and in the Southeast Region. The great location and attractions of Birmingham, coupled with the high standard of academics, makes UAB a gold mine for high-level talent."
A native of Los Altos, Calif., she and her husband Glenn have three children; nine-year-old daughter, Korynn; 19-year-old son, Cameron; and 3-1/2-year-old son, Kyle. Their nephew, Bryan Buckner, played four years on the UAB football team and will graduate in May 2005 with a degree in finance.