By Nick Mazzarella - Staff Writer
When former Hofstra volleyball head coach Kristina Hernandez resigned from the position in March, athletic director Jeff Hathaway began a national search for the program’s next head coach.
However, the winning candidate wasn’t very far away. In fact, Hathaway didn’t even have to leave campus to find her. The answer was Emily Mansur.
Mansur joined Hofstra’s staff in 2013 as an assistant coach, and upon Hernandez’s resignation, Mansur was named the interim head coach while Hathaway explored his options. However, about two months later, the interim tag was removed and Mansur was named Hofstra’s head volleyball coach.
“I was definitely not expecting that, but I was extremely happy for the credit given to me,” said Mansur about becoming head coach. “I’m more than excited, and surprised in a good way.”
Mansur was involved in the college game before arriving at Hofstra. She was a four-year starter and two-year captain at Iona College, where she earned accolades that included All-MAAC First Team and Setter of the Year. After graduating in 2005, Mansur began her coaching career at Marist College, another MAAC school, where she was an assistant coach for the 2006 season.
Mansur, who is from Brazil, has also taken part in volleyball outside the U.S. In Portugal, she served as an assistant coach for two Lusofona Volleyball Club teams – a professional team and a team of 18-year-olds that qualified for the Portuguese Final Four. She has also played for Brazilian and German club teams.
Now at the helm, Mansur has coached the Pride to a 7-1 start. The 2014 campaign alr
eady includes a sweep of Long Island rival Stony Brook and a title at St. Francis Brooklyn’s Terrier Invitational. The first match of the season – and the first of Mansur’s career as a head coach – was a win, so she’s able to laugh about dropping the first set of that match.
“At that moment, I believe I was just thinking of the next game. I knew it was a game we had to win,” she said. “But afterward, I was like, ‘Oh man, I lost my first game.’”
Despite the quick start, Mansur is not getting comfortable.
“I think with every match, we have had the chance to improve,” she said. “We are still far from where we need to be to win a NCAA title.”
So how did Mansur end up at Hofstra? She played against Hernandez in college and the two came in contact again at a tournament in the U.S. and at Nationals. Hernandez asked if Mansur wanted to come back to the U.S. and join her staff at Hofstra. The answer was yes.
When Mansur played for Iona, she looked up to Hofstra’s coach at the time, Fran Kalafer. An inductee of the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Kalafer led the Pride to five NCAA tournament appearances over a six-year span. Mansur is well aware of Kalafer’s tenure at Hofstra – one in which she recorded 22 winning seasons.
“We want to bring Hofstra back to where it was a few years ago when she was here,” said Mansur.
Asked about her long-term goals, Mansur said she wants to win the conference, which would earn Hofstra an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. But it’s not all about just getting there; she wants to win at least one game in the big dance.
“We want to get to the second round of the NCAAs,” she said.