North Texas Daily

Andrew Palileo: father, friend, volleyball coach

Andrew Palileo: father, friend, volleyball coach

October 05
11:19 2016

Andrew Palileo did not always want to be a volleyball coach.

“An FBI [agent] or policeman,” Palileo said, “That’s what I used to want to become.”

Palileo grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, a popular tourist destination and vacation spot. As a child, he was not aware of the multiple landmarks his home state boasted, much like how we was not aware he would one day be the head coach for a Division I collegiate volleyball team.

“Growing up there you pretty much go to the beach on the weekends and you go to Waikiki to have a good time,” Palileo said. “I hadn’t even gone to Pearl Harbor the whole time I lived there until I visited when I brought one of my [former teams] there.”

After moving off the island, Palileo began his coaching career while he was still a student at Crown College in Minnesota. He coached high school volleyball for 10 years before putting in an application to coach at Bethel University.

In his four years at Bethel, Palileo produced eight first-team All-Conference players, a first-team All-American and two academic All-Americans. Palileo moved to three different states before eventually settling in Texas to continue his coaching career with the Mean Green.

Associate head coach Vinh Nguyen first met Palileo when he left Washington State University to take an assistant job at Ohio State University. Nguyen called Palileo to talk about a former player he was trying to recruit.

“It was very interesting,” Nguyen said. “He was very nice. Normally when a coach calls another coach to recruit a player, they’re more standoffish. But he was super cool about it.”

It would be a few more years before Palileo and Nguyen got the chance to work together at the same school, but Nguyen already had an idea of what his future boss was like.

“My first impression was that I thought he knows exactly what he is talking about in terms of volleyball,” Nguyen said. “I have a lot of respect for what he knows and the experiences that he’s had.”

In the years leading up to his hire at North Texas in 2013, Palileo bounced across the country. In that span, he coached in Minnesota, South Dakota, Washington and Ohio.

The constant moving put a strain on everyone, especially his family.

“It was a bit harder for the kids because they would always have to make new friends,” Palileo said. “It’s not built-in for them. It was easier on me because of the built-in community as coaches.”

Someone who knows the struggle of relocating all too well is Palileo’s daughter, Alyvia. Not only is she his only daughter, Alyvia also plays for her father at North Texas as a sophomore defensive specialist for the Mean Green.

Having her dad as her coach is nothing new to Alyvia, though. Since she grew up and saw her father in both roles, she said it is something she has just gotten used to over the years.

“He basically forced me to go to [volleyball] tryouts,” Alyvia said. “That’s how it all started.”

Despite the forcefulness from her father to play volleyball, the sport has only brought them closer together. Andrew and his daughter both agree he treats her just like any other player.

After Nguyen began working for Andrew at North Texas, he noticed something that set him apart from other coaches. From team dinners and meals at his house to going out of his way to make a difference, Nguyen said Palileo is one of the most genuine coaches he’s ever worked for and he frequently goes the extra mile.

“I think [Palileo] is really good on the court technically and he expects a lot out of the [women],” Nguyen said. “When he’s off the court, he’s got a real good balance of what he provides.”

Currently in his fourth season with the Mean Green, Andrew led North Texas to its second-best regular season win total in 2014 and helped former player Carnae Dillard become a two-time Conference-USA Player of the Year.

Although Andrew will always see the island paradise as his home, he admits UNT has grown on him, and there is more work left for him to do with the Mean Green.

“I like the Denton and DFW area, and I like Texas,” Palileo said. “I want to get this program to win consistently and possibly [win] a championship.”

Featured Image: North Texas volleyball head coach Andrew Palileo coaches the team during a timeout in a spring game against Southern Methodist University. Dylan Nadwodny 

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Courtney Anderson

Courtney Anderson

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