Courtesy of Cat Dailey Minyard

After leading Yale to its first outright title since 1978 and a first-round win at the NCAA tournament in 2008, unanimous Ivy League Player of the Year Cat Dailey Minyard ’10 has returned to the Bulldogs as a member of the coaching staff.

After a near decade of separation during which she won three professional championships abroad, Dailey Minyard rejoins the program and her own former coaches — Erin Appleman and current associate head coach Kevin Laseau — this fall as a volunteer assistant coach to round out a talented staff that also includes fifth-year assistant Brendan McGourn.

Her reunion with the Yale volleyball team follows a two-year stint playing professional volleyball overseas. Her professional experience playing volleyball in England and Italy, as well as a foray into coaching, prime Dailey Minyard to impact the Elis as they seek a consecutive league title.

“She’s had a lot of high-level experience,” said Laseau. “She was playing with and against really good players, and that kind of experience is invaluable in passing on tidbits to our players.”

Team Durham in England, for which Dailey Minyard was an outside hitter and team captain during the 2016-2017 season, won the top league in the country — the National Volleyball League Super 8 — and the British Universities and Colleges Sport championship. She and her now-husband Garrett Minyard, who also plays volleyball, only expected to play in Europe for a year while they pursued master’s degrees in business. However, her return to competitive volleyball — and her time living abroad — was so enjoyable that she hired an agent and began shopping a highlight video around the continent, Dailey Minyard explained.

During spring break in 2017, she flew to Italy for a tryout and signed a contract with Lombardy club Volley Millenium Brescia a month later. Originally not projected to compete for the league’s top spot, the team went on to win the Italian Serie A2 league with a 25-7 record. Now, Dailey Minyard hopes to apply the intensity of her Italian experience to competition in the Ivy League.

“Volleyball in Italy was the highest level I had ever played,” she said. “I’m trying to get [the Yale volleyball team] to go as hard as they can all the time and do stuff that will not just work here but would work at the next level. If it works in Italy, it’ll probably work against [Ivy] league teams.”

Before going overseas, Dailey Minyard added part-time club volleyball coaching duties as a complement to her career in marketing. She and her husband are currently launching their own Connecticut-based club, Northeast Volleyball.

Dailey Minyard transferred to Yale in 2008 after spending her freshman and sophomore years at Cal-Berkeley, where she contributed to a dominant then-Pac-10 volleyball team. Appleman and Laseau had originally tried to recruit her during high school. When Dailey Minyard began exploring new options after a successful yet taxing sophomore season, in which Cal progressed to the Final Four, the coaches welcomed her to Yale.

“She was just a great fit,” Laseau said. “From the first couple of days, she fit in perfectly with all the players and was just one with the team seemingly instantly. It was so exciting to have a player of her ability.”

In moving to Yale, Dailey Minyard explained, she could restore the balanced student-athlete lifestyle that she had missed at Cal, whose program demanded hours of travel time and days of missed class. Following her senior season in 2009, Dailey Minyard was named to the ESPN Academic All-District First Team and was awarded Academic All-Ivy recognition.

On the court, she led Yale to its second Ivy League title in 30 years, heralding in an era in which the program has won six titles in the past eight seasons. She made consecutive appearances on the All-Ivy First Team in 2008 and 2009, and she recorded a team-high 20 kills and 15 digs during Yale’s second-ever NCAA tournament victory, a first round win over Ohio University in 2008.

Her unique insight as a coach, skilled outside hitter and Yale student-athlete are of great value to current players.

“Because she knows what it’s like to be a student-athlete here, she provides us with insights that go beyond the volleyball court as well,” outside hitter Ellis DeJardin ’22 said.

Benefitting from a combined 29 years as leaders of the program, Appelman and Laseau already possess a deep understanding of what life is like for student-athletes at Yale, Dailey Minyard explained. Dailey Minyard instead hones in on technique and details that are often overlooked, outside hitter Kelley Wirth ’19 said, synthesizing her varied perspectives on the game — from Italy, England, the Pac-10 and, of course, Yale.

Dailey Minyard’s 4.04 kills per set during the 2009 season rank eighth among Yale’s single-season records.

William McCormack | william.mccormack@yale.edu .