Tufts University Volleyball head coach Cora Thompson is a five-time New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Coach of the Year who has led the Jumbos to seven NCAA Tournament berths. Now in her 15th season, Thompson runs one of the top programs in New England.
A 1999 graduate of Tufts who played for the Jumbos, Coach Thompson has guided the team to NCAA berths in 2005, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2014 and 2016. Tufts hosted NCAA Regionals in Cousens Gym in 2008, 2009 and 2016. They won the Regional title and advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2009 and 2016. Thompson's first NCAA team in 2005 played into the Regional final.
Thompson was named the conference's Coach of the Year for the second time in three seasons last fall, including 2014. She received the honor in back-to-back seasons for 2008 and 2009 as well as winning for the first time in 2004. Four times she has directed Tufts to the #1 seed in NESCAC for the regular-season (including last year) and her teams have played in six conference championship finals. Her teams have an outstanding 110-30 record in conference play (.786 winning percentage), including a 10-0 mark last fall. The program has qualified for the NESCAC Championship tournament every year since she took over.
The Jumbos' NESCAC victory at Hamilton College on October 30, 2015 was the 300th of Coach Thompson's career. Her Tufts teams have compiled a 327-113 overall record during her 14-year tenure. The .743 career winning percentage ranks her 21st on the NCAA Division III active coaches list. Among her 300+ wins are last year's 27-4 record, a 28-6 season in 2004, a 29-7 finish in 2005, a 29-4 record in 2008 and a 31-5 mark for 2009.
In addition to her NESCAC Coach of the Year honors, Thompson was the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Northeast Coach of the Year for 2016. She has also been recognized as the New England Women's Volleyball Association Coach of the Year three times (2016, 2008 and 2004).
Student-athletes recruited to Tufts by Thompson have excelled athletically and academically. Maddie Kuppe, a 2016 graduate, earned AVCA Second Team All-America honors for 2015. She was one of just three players in New England on the top two All-American teams that year. Jumbos receive AVCA All-America accolades regularly, with setter Dena Feiger earning second team AVCA All-America in 2009. Feiger was named NESCAC Player of the Year that season, an award for which Kendall Lord was a co-recipient in 2011.
Kuppe was also an Academic All-District selction in 2016, one of just two NESCAC players to receive the honor. Feiger and defensive specialist Natalie Goldstein were selected to the AVCA Academic All-America Team during their careers. Dozens of Jumbo volleyball players have been named to the Academic All-NESCAC teams under Coach Thompson, including two last season.
Thompson has been associated with the volleyball program for over 20 years since enrolling at Tufts from Half Moon Bay, California in 1995. She was a defensive specialist for the Jumbos, and was a sophomore on the 1996 Tufts team that was the first to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. She also played in three NCAA Tournaments as a four-year starter at shortstop on the softball team. Graduating in 1999, Thompson went on to earn her Master's degree in Education from Tufts in 2001.
After three seasons as an assistant coach with the Jumbos, she was promoted to head coach of the volleyball program in 2002.
Cora and her wife Kendra live in Stow, Massachusetts with their daughter, Taedyn, and their son, Tucker.