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Patenaude named new Thunder volleyball coach

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College has named Mike Patenaude of Duluth as the head coach of the intercollegiate women's volleyball program at the college. Patenaude is well-known in local volleyball circles and has already started working to...

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College has named Mike Patenaude of Duluth as the head coach of the intercollegiate women's volleyball program at the college. Patenaude is well-known in local volleyball circles and has already started working to build the new program and recruit student-athletes.

Patenaude, a 1976 graduate of Morgan Park High School in Duluth, brings a deep coaching background to Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.

In the past two years, he served as an assistant coach and junior varsity coach at Esko, including the 2008 Section runner-up and Polar League Champion team.

Previously, he was the head coach at Wrenshall for three years and an assistant coach for two years. Patenaude co-founded the Northland Volleyball Club and has been the club's president for 15 years. He has directed the Northland Volleyball Club's Junior Olympic Development Program for two years and coached JO championship teams in 2005 and 2007. As a head coach at various high school and development league levels, he has posted an overall coaching record of 180-64-25.

"I'm really honored and excited to be given the opportunity to bring collegiate volleyball to Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College," said Patenaude. "I have spent the last 20 years playing, promoting, coaching and sharing the passion I have for the sport of volleyball. The addition of volleyball at Fond du Lac will provide many student-athletes a great opportunity to extend their volleyball careers beyond high school without having to leave the area. I'm really looking forward to [building] a good strong program that both the school and the community can be proud of."

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As co-founder and president of the Northland Volleyball Club, Patenaude has played a significant role in providing league play and open gyms in the Carlton County area for more than 300 members since 1993. In 2004, the Northland Volleyball Club added a Junior Olympic division to the club, which this past year provided the opportunity to more than 100 volleyball players, ages 9-18, to enhance their skills and challenge themselves at tournaments held during the spring.

Patenaude's connections to local coaches and volleyball athletes will be valuable assets when recruiting a roster of quality players and building community support of the new program.

"To play for me, I look for four primary attributes - desire, attitude, discipline, and effort," he said. "These four principles will ... be the foundation that I will build the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Thunder Volleyball program upon."

The college originally planned to debut women's volleyball starting with the 2008 season but had to postpone the program's start until 2009 due to a smaller than expected turnout of players reporting in the first week of practice. Patenaude now takes the reigns of the women's volleyball team at Fond du Lac for its inaugural season in 2009.

The Thunder Women's Volleyball team will begin practice in August and play in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference.

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