People of Point Park: Mike Bruno "Sets" his Athletes Up for Success Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Position at Point Park: Head Coach, Women's Volleyball
Education: B.S. in Business Administration from Robert Morris University where he majored in Sports Management
Current Hometown: Cecil, Pa.
Changing the Culture
Mike Bruno has years of experience coaching volleyball and building competitive teams. Prior to Point Park, he was the head coach of the Waynesburg University women's volleyball team and led the program to two Presidents' Athletic Conference championships. Bruno came to Point Park in 2005 and took over a program that historically had a losing record. He was committed to changing the culture of the program through hard work and solid leadership, with the team focused on winning a conference championship each year. The turnaround has been successful. The women's volleyball team won the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament in 2011 and 2014, and advanced to the NAIA tournament in 2011, 2014 and 2015.
"The older I get and the longer I do this, it's more about watching vicariously through the eyes of the student athletes, especially the groups in 2011 and 2014. That's the gratifying part for me. That's really special for a coach to share those moments with his student athletes."
Blinded by Inspiration
Bruno knows that his players turn to him for inspiration - but who motivates the coach? Bruno cites his family, especially his 10-year-old daughter Cassie as his biggest inspiration. Cassie has a form of autism and is visually impaired. However, that doesn't stop her from always having a positive outlook on life.
"She has taught me so much these last 10 years - just how to be a better person, how to be more patient and how to overcome adversity and push while you do it."
In order to better understand how Cassie navigates the world and to raise money for charity, Bruno ran the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon blindfolded in 2013 and 2014, tethered to former cross-country coach Jim Irving for the duration of the race and relying on verbal commands for direction. Bruno raised more than $27,000 for vision research in 2013 and over $10,000 for Autism Speaks in 2014.
Bruno returns to the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2016 with a new partner - he'll push Cassie 26.2 miles in support of the special needs community.
Legacy of Impact
Bruno has a special relationship with his players, past and present, and works to facilitate relationships between them. Each fall, the volleyball team hosts an alumnae match in conjunction with Athletics Alumni Weekend letting current players play against alumnae. After the game, alumnae share wisdom and advice, both about playing volleyball at the collegiate level and about life after graduation.
Not only are these opportunities meaningful for the current team, it's also an opportunity for Bruno to reflect on his impact on his former players. "It's always gratifying to see the kids doing well out in the work force and flourishing in life and hear them share their experiences and how quickly it went."