Coaching Veteran Onikeku Added To Tiger Volleyball Staff
Feb. 24, 2011
MEMPHIS, TENN. -
University of Memphis volleyball coach April Jauregui announced today the hiring of college volleyball veteran James “J.O.” Onikeku as an assistant coach.
Onikeku, who has over 20 years of collegiate experience as a volleyball assistant and head coach, joins the Tiger staff after a nine-year coaching stint at UT-Chattanooga – his second at the institution. He was elevated to associate head coach prior to the 2005 campaign by former head coach Lisa Rhodes. He served as the Lady Mocs’ primary recruiter and had practice, on-court and scouting responsibilities.
“J.O. is an exceptional person and is well regarded in this profession for his character and work ethic,” said Jauregui. “I have known James since I started out in this profession, and I have always admired his ability to connect with people. I am very comfortable with him and trust him completely, and that was a big factor in choosing J.O. to become a part of the Tiger family.”
“Anne Cote has left some huge shoes to fill,” added Jauregui. “J.O. knows that and understands the importance of his position and his roll on my staff. He will be our recruiting coordinator and will be on the road a lot this spring finding, evaluating, and identifying talent for our upcoming recruiting classes.”
While at UTC, Onikeku worked with libero Lara Newberry, who was a two-time National Libero of the Year by Collegiate Volleyball Update from 2007-08 and holds the NCAA single-season and career dig records. He also saw sophomore libero Paula Passmore named the SoCon Libero of the Year following the 2010 campaign. From 2005-10, a Chattanooga libero has paced the Southern Conference in digs per set due to the stellar defense by Newberry and Passmore.
Onikeku began his coaching career at Tennessee Temple University, where he was an assistant from 1989-94. In 1994, the Lagos, Nigeria, native began his first stint at UTC, serving as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator until 1999. UTC won two Southern Conference regular-season championships (1997-98), three tournament titles (1996-98) and made two NCAA Tournament appearances and an NCAA Play-In Match (1996-98) during his tenure.
In between his two stints with the Mocs, Onikeku was the head coach at Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La., from 1999-2002. The Demons won 14 games during the 1999 campaign, which was the most wins in seven seasons for the program. During his three campaigns as head coach, he had the best two-year win total of any Northwestern State volleyball coach and finished with a three-year record of 31-59.
An active member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), Onikeku received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Tennessee Temple in 1990 and earned a Master of Education in Administration and Supervision from UTC in 1998.
“I am excited to be part of the athletic department at the University of Memphis,” said Onikeku. “I am very grateful to Coach Jauregui for this opportunity to be a part of the Memphis Volleyball family. I look forward to working with Coach Jauregui and Coach Marko to build the program to the top of Conference USA.”
What they are saying about Onikeku:
"Memphis has made a great hire in J.O. Having experience in the Southern and Southland conferences; I know he is ready to expand into Conference USA. April is not only getting a great coach, fantastic recruiter, and quality person but she is gaining a loyal friend for life. His tireless efforts into the program will be seen immediately. Excellent hire!” -- Lisa Rhodes, Former Head Volleyball Coach at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (recently retired)
"James will be a great addition to April's staff. Memphis is not only getting a hard worker and great recruiter, but also a great person. I am certain he will make a difference in their program." -- Tonya Johnson, Head Volleyball Coach at Georgia Tech University
"James is tireless in his effort and very passionate about what he does. I believe that he will be an asset to the program and do great things there too." -- Sam Ojie, Assistant Volleyball Coach at University of Oklahoma
"The University of Memphis is getting a great hire with James Onikeku. J.O. is a dedicated coach and recruiter as well a wonderful person." -- Laura Herron , Associate Athletic Director SWA at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga