Newly appointed associate head coach Gokhan Yilmaz had the opportunity of a lifetime this past March and took full advantage of it to help expand the FSU brand.
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Gokhan Yilmaz is heading into his sixth season at Florida State after joining the staff in 2008 following two seasons as an assistant coach for the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks under current FSU coach Chris Poole. Yilmaz was promoted to an associate head coach position with Florida State in the spring 2013.
Yilmaz's primary role is the team's training coordinator where he is in charge of the day-to-day training while working to enhance the skills of all players. Yilmaz has also taken on an expanded recruiting role to help establish Seminole volleyball at the regional, national and international level.
He was instrumental in implementing Florida State's quick attack in 2012 that allowed it to finish 14th nationally with a .276 hitting percentage. Using the standout offensive play of middle blockers Sareea Freeman and Ashley Neff, the Seminoles put together one of the best offenses in the nation as they finished with a 28-4 overall record and a second consecutive ACC title. Both players ended their seasons as All-Americans, and outside hitter Fatma Yildirim joined them on the All-ACC Team as well as being an All-American herself.
Yilmaz played a significant part in FSU volleyball's historic 2011 season in which it reached its first NCAA National Semifinal in the school's 44-year history. Yilmaz has proven to be an extremely effective instructor in drawing up match plans for the opposition, which is part of his daily teachings to his student-athletes. The knowledgeable coach's strategies for scouting the opposition, teaching the fundamentals to his team and motivating his student-athletes has made him a tremendous asset to the FSU coaching staff.
In 2011, Yilmaz helped several FSU players fulfill their individual goals. Outside hitter Jekaterina Stepanova became just the second non-honorable mention All-American in school history by earning AVCA Second-Team honors, while Visnja Djurdjevic joined Neff in earning AVCA Honorable Mention All-America honors. In addition, three Seminoles in Neff, Djurdjevic and Stepanova made the All-ACC Team while freshman setter Sarah Wickstrom was an all-conference freshman.
In the recruiting realm, Yilmaz helped make an enormous splash with the signing of four players ranked in the Top 53 of the PrepVolleyball.com 2012 senior class rankings. The standout athletes include middle blockers Sarah Burrington and Mara Green and outside hitters Nicole Walch and Leah Mikesky. All four players showed great signs of progression in their first season, and made up the third-best recruiting class in 2012 according to PrepVolleyball.com.
That 2009 class became arguably the most successful in school history, amassing 109 victories in four years, an NCAA National Semifinal, an NCAA Regional Final, two second-round appearances and three ACC titles.
As for the 2010 recruiting class, Yilmaz once again landed a group of talented prospects that continue to push the program to new heights. In addition to Americans Ashley Neff and Katie Mosher, Yilmaz helped in the signing of junior college All-American transfers Jekatarina Stepanova (Riga, Latvia) and Patricia Figueiredo (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) from Missouri State University-West Plains.Both JUCO transfers aided the Seminoles tremendously in a return run to the NCAA Championship.
Yilmaz continued his splendid recruiting efforts for the 2011 season by helping land standout setter Wickstrom of Stuart, Fla, who became an All-ACC freshman.
The 2013 class figures to be no different in term's of success with Orlando-area standouts Hailey Luke and Isabel Carmona inking their NLI's. Both players look to follow a strong pedigree of recent accomplishments attained in Yilmaz's recruiting classes.
Already one of the top minds in collegiate volleyball, Yilmaz took advantage of an enormous honor in the spring 2013 when he was a guest at the Turkish National Team Coaches Classic alongside some very prestigious volleyball coaches worldwide. His expertise on the game that has consumed much of his life allowed him to focus on three sections at the coaches clinic - the differences in American and Turkish volleyball systems, player selection and four-year planning in collegiate volleyball and USA volleyball development.
Besides teaching and coaching along with some of the game's best at the clinic in Turkey, Yilmaz seized an opportunity for some publicity. He appeared on a live, volleyball-specific television show that was an hour long. The show featured a discussion about Yilmaz's career in Turkey and his path to the United States as well as his success at Florida State.
A bonus to the TV appearance was having on a few of Yilmaz's former players from Turkey who played for him when they were between 12 and 18 years old. The two young men have now made it to the professional ranks and are participating with the Turkish Men's National Team, showing Yilmaz much gratitude for how much he taught them growing up.
Yilmaz had a busy spring in 2009 after being selected as an assistant coach for the Florida Region Girls Junior National Team. This allowed him to make inroads in the Florida recruiting base and gave him a chance to work with plenty of young talent.
While at Arkansas with Poole and former FSU associate head coach Holly Watts, Yilmaz went to work on re-energizing practices as the training coordinator for the Lady Razorbacks. He was also involved with recruiting by making trips both nationally and internationally to spread the Lady Razorbacks' name.
Yilmaz's first exposure to Arkansas came in the spring of 2005 when he worked with the Lady Razorbacks as a volunteer coach. Prior to Arkansas, Yilmaz was at Northwood, where he helped the Timberwolves to a regional semifinal in 2005 with a 23-11 overall record. They were conference runners-up with a 14-4 mark that same season. Northwood was 16-11 and had three players selected to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic all-conference team in 2006.
Also at Northwood, Yilmaz coached a first team All-American and Regional Player of the Year in Gorana Maricic, as well as four other All-Conference players. Yilmaz was also in charge of camps, recruiting and training for the Timberwolves.
Yilmaz got his coaching start in the United States as an assistant at Cameron University from 2003 to 2004 and at Western New Mexico from 2002 to 2003. Before coming to the states, Yilmaz worked for various club programs in Istanbul, Turkey, as well as with the Turkish National Team. While working with the Turkish National Team, Yilmaz guided multiple age groups to eight National Titles. He also worked with the Turkish Junior National Team during the 1999 and 2000 seasons. He has also worked with national team coaches from Cuba, Russia and Bulgaria, assisting in their practices and working in the physical training aspect of the game.
Yilmaz received his bachelor's degree in European Studies in 2002 from Istanbul University and completed his master's degree in Sports Psychology while coaching at Cameron in 2005.