From Hawaii to Whitman: Helm Fills Volleyball Coaching Job

News Release Date:
Saturday, June 9, 2012

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Matt Helm, who led Molokai High School to an eight-year run of success in the Hawaiian volleyball ranks, is the new head volleyball coach at Whitman College.

Helm, 41, replaces Carolyn Papineau, who resigned earlier this spring after five seasons.

         Matt Helm
                     Maui News photo

"Matt is an educator at heart who mentors and teaches young people through the classroom of competitive volleyball," Whitman coach Dean Snider says.

"He is an outstanding young coach who has achieved great results in his career to date. I could not be more pleased to welcome Matt into the Whitman community."

In his eight seasons at Molokai, Helm led the Farmers to four Maui Interscholastic League titles, six consecutive state tournament appearances and the 2010 Division state championship. His win-loss record over those eight seasons was 79-37.

Helm, who played NCAA Division I volleyball at California's University of La Verne, says he is "ecstatic" about the opportunity to coach at Whitman, one of the top liberal arts & sciences colleges in the nation.

"My goal at Whitman is to create a program that encourages athletes to be complete students and contributors to society," he says. "Volleyball gives athletes the chance to build team relationships, encounter and overcome adversity, and learn life lessons that will benefit them for a lifetime.

"I'm looking forward to being a part of Whitman's community, and I'm excited about the journey ahead," he adds. "I want to thank athletic athletic director Dean Snider and provost Timothy Kaufman-Osborn for the opportunity to coach at this level. I am truly blessed."

Dean Snider

Helm, who plans to be on campus by mid-July, has distributed recommended summer work-out plans to student athletes eligible to return from last fall's Whitman roster. That group includes senior middle blockers Courtney Brewer and Olivia Nielson, senior outside hitter Carrie Cecil and junior outside hitter Jillian Davis.

Helm says he wants his teams to play aggressively with explosiveness, enthusiasm and a focus on tactics and strategy. "We also want to play with heart and togetherness."

A graduate of Molokai High School, where he competed in volleyball, basketball and track & field, Helm spent one semester at the University of Hawaii before transferring to La Verne to play volleyball.

Helm was a four-year captain at La Verne, an NCAA Division III school that competed at that time at the Division I level in men's volleyball. As an outside hitter, he won numerous honors ranging from first-team all-league kudos to player-of-the-year recognition.

After completing his undergraduate degree in physical education (athletic training emphasis), Helm earned a master's degree in education at La Verne in 1997.

His initial coaching experience included one year as an assistant at La Verne, three years as the girls head coach at California's Baldwin Park High School, and six years coaching both the girls (fall) and boys (spring) teams in the same school district at Sierra Vista High School. He also taught physical education and science classes at Sierra Vista.

Helm hoists 2010 state title trophy

In 2002, Helm and spouse Erika moved their growing family to Molokai.

"We wanted to be closer to family and give our children the chance to experience Hawaii," he says. "I also wanted to give back to the youth of Molokai by passing along what I had learned through my experiences in college and as a coach and teacher in the states."

In addition to building the Molokai girls team into a state powerhouse, Helm also taught at the high school and held administrative roles ranging from vice principal to assistant athletic director and counselor.

Helm, a three-time Coach of the Year in the Maui Interscholastic League Coach of the Year, was named Hawaii's Coach of the Year for girls volleyball in 2010. He has helped at summer camps in recent years at both the University of Hawaii and Texas Tech.

Helm is not the only member of his immediate family with coaching experience. His father has helped coach track and field at Molokai High School, and two brothers-in-law coach high school football and baseball.

His wife Erika, a native of Chino, Calif., who competed in track and field at La Verne, has coached that sport at the high school level while also working as an elementary school teacher.

Matt and Erika Helm have four children: daughter Noelani (10) and sons Kahili (12), Kahiau (6) and Makaio (1).

Fifth Set: Matt Helm becomes the 14th women's volleyball coach at Whitman in the program's four decades of existence ... Prior to becoming Whitman's athletic director in 2007, Dean Snider coached the volleyball team for 12 seasons, more than twice as long as any other coach ... Snider also the most career volleyball coaching victories at 134 ...

Women's volleyball has been a Northwest Conference sport since 1984, when coach Stacey Shank led Whitman to a second-place finish ... One year earlier, Shank led Whitman to a 22-15 record (8-2 league) and a co-championship of the Women's Conference of Independent Colleges in that organization's last year of existence ... In his second and final year as coach, Jim Coleman guided Whitman to a 26-17 season.

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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902;