43 Merchant Stands Alone
Coach Megan Merchant picked up win number 43 on Sept. 30 2016 and became the winningest women’s volleyball coach at Olivet.
The Comets played Illinois Tech and won in four sets, taking the last three 25-12, 25-16 and 25-23 after dropping the first set 25-23.
Merchant came into the game tied for first in wins with Coleen Wendel, coach of the Comets from 1981-1983, who had 42 wins. Merchant has since added to her total wins, competing against UC Clermont (Ohio), Eureka (Illinois) and Principia (Illinois) over the weekend of Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, in addition to Kalamazoo on Oct. 7. Her record at present time stands at 47.
On her achievement and success, Merchant said it come from the heart. "I always tell the girls that I am a lifer. I’m not going unless they kick me out. I really believe in Olivet College. I believe in the students that I get to work with, and we get to work with some different students that other schools wouldn’t get to and I really love working here. Also, the players have been a big contributors to that success as well," Merchant said, "When I got here, the first group of kids that I got to bring in had to believe in something. It’s not like we will build it and they will come. I had to get them to come and then it will be built. For them, they had to buy into something, when I was telling them [about] a losing program, with a losing tradition and a losing history."
Merchant has been the head coach for the past five years and last season led the Comets to a 14-14 record, the second best season in school history. Wendel’s 1982 squad had an astounding 22-14 record that remains first in the record books.
Merchant’s previous coaching stops before Olivet included six years as coach of the Pewamo-Westphalia High School (PWHS) women’s volleyball. At PWHS, Merchant put together an impressive resume as well, with a record of 228-86-38 with the Pirates, and was ranked as high as fifth in the state. There she also coached 11 All-State players. Additionally, Merchant coached the Spartan Juniors (a premier 16 and under national team), served as an assistant on the Michigan State club team and served as junior varsity coach of the Lansing Christian High School volleyball team.
In addition to her coaching duties, Merchant was a history teacher at Bridgman High School and also taught history and communication at Berkley High School, according to her coaching bio on the Olivet Athletic web site. Merchant earned a bachelor’s degree in interpersonal and organizational communication and Bible theology from Great Lakes Christian College (GLCC) in 2009 and teacher’s certificate from Cornerstone University in 2010. At GLCC, she was a four-year starter on the volleyball team as an outside hitter for three years and setter for one year. Merchant was a three-year captain and earned collegiate All-American honors. Merchant and husband, Andy Merchant, who coaches baseball at Olivet, have a 3-year-old, Eli. He and his father are on the sidelines at most volleyball games.
"I was really proud of what they have been able to do with the team and accomplish with her [Merchant] as the coach," said Athletic Director Ryan Shockey via email. "We hope that they [Olivet women’s volleyball] can continue to put things together and get more victories."
"I think in 5 years, I can’t guarantee that we would win a volleyball championship, but I could definitely say we are competing for that conference championship," Merchant said in terms of the future of Olivet women’s volleyball.