With a career record of 48-11, Shawn Patchell is in his third year as head coach and seventh year overall as a member of BYU's staff. Patchell came to BYU from Laguna Beach High School where he was head coach for both the boys and girls volleyball teams.
In addition to his BYU coaching responsibilities, Patchell was selected to be the 2008-09 Junior National Team Head Coach. The Junior National Team competed in El Salvador last summer where it took the bronze medal and qualified for the World Championships held in India in 2009.
Patchell also coached the Youth National Team at the FIVB World Championships in Mexico in 2007, the first US team to qualify and participate in the Youth World Championships. In 2006 Patchell assisted the Youth National Team to a win over Cuba and a silver medal at the Dominican Republic NORCECA tournament, which qualified Team USA for the World Championships.
During the summer of 2005, Patchell coached the US World University Games team.
Playing Career: A member of BYU's first NCAA mens volleyball team, Patchell was a starter from 1990-93 and recorded a .398 career hitting percentage. In 1992, Patchell's junior year, he led the nation in hitting percentage at .488 and was honored as All-Academic Western Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. He was ranked fourth and 10th nationally in hitting and blocking his senior year. Patchell played professionally in Spain for the Euro Cup qualifier and No. 1 ranked Gran Canaria Team in the Canary Islands and also represented the US in the Federation International Volleyball Association Sand Volleyball Circuit in Europe.
Education: Patchell earned his BA in English with a minor in business management from BYU in 1993 and a master's degree in English Literature from the University of California at Irvine in 2000. He is a part-time member of the BYU English Department and Business School where he teaches literature and composition classes.
Family: Shawn and his wife Davis enjoy being outdoors with their four children: Jordan (13), Sage (11) Soren (7) and Kai (2).
Rob Neilson enters his third season as an assistant coach at BYU. Neilson has been coaching volleyball at summer camps since 2000. He played for and coached under former BYU coaches Carl McGown and Tom Peterson.
Neilson married Sarah Wheatly in September 2006.
Playing Career: He was the starting setter for two years with the Cougars in 2005 and 2006. As a junior in 2005, Neilson earned All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Honorable Mention status while also being named Academic All-MPSF. He started every match in his junior and senior year. Neilson was named the USA Today/AVCA National Player of the Week in his junior season from his play against Hawaii.
As a senior, Neilson earned All-MPSF Honorable Mention and Academic All-MPSF honors for his second consecutive season. All totaled, Neilson played in 314 career games for BYU which is seventh in BYU history. He was a member of BYU's 2004 National Championship team.
Education: BS degree in neuroscience from BYU in 2006
Hometown: Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Vinci began working with the sport of volleyball in a small club called Pallavolo Casteggio as manager and then assistant coach as a 13-year-old. In this club he worked with various teams, one of which won a championship and advanced into the regional category. He has worked with both the men’s and women’s Division II Italian Professional teams and went to the 2008 Olympic Games with the Men’s Italian Senior National Team.
Here in the United States, Vinci has worked with the BYU men’s and women’s volleyball teams, as well as USA Volleyball. He was an assistant coach with the Men’s Junior National Team at the 2009 FIBA World Championships in India.
A native of Milan, Italy, Vinci is double-majoring in business and Italian while also earning a minor in music.
He is the son of Francesca and has sisters Deborach, Alessia, Angelica and Ombretta.
Chelsea Nitta enters her third season as the BYU men's volleyball team manager.
Nitta played four years of volleyball at Centennial High School in Las Vegas, Nev., under head coach Shannon Alia. She was named team captain and defensive MVP her senior year. Nitta has also played club volleyball for the Vegas Blues.
The valedictorian of her graduating class, Nitta also lettered in softball and track. Nitta is majoring in exercise science and minoring in chemistry. She plans to attend physician school following her graduation from BYU.
She enjoys snowboarding, wakeboarding, fourwheeling and spending time with family and friends.
Blain Empey enters his ninth season as the athletic trainer for the BYU men's volleyball team. Empey has been at BYU since 1994. He is also the athletic trainer over swimming and diving and the cheer squad. Empey teaches athletic training and has done a variety of clinical work.
Empey graduated from BYU in 1991 with a BS in athletic training and went on to earn a MS in physical therapy from Columbia. He is married to Cindy and the couple has one son, Jakob (8).
Responsibilities: Current: Athletic Trainer over men's volleyball, swimming and diving and cheer. Professor of athletic training classes (PE 320).
Previous: Athletic Trainer over men's and women's tennis. Assistant program director.
Prior To BYU: Lehi High School and a variety of physical therapy clinics.
Education: BS from BYU and MS from Columbia
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nev.
Family: Wife Cindy and one son, Jakob (8).