Fang’s goal: build a team, win a championship


Kyle Gagnon

Johnson men’s and women’s volleyball coach, Dongping Fang

The new NVU-Johnson men’s and women’s volleyball coach, Dongping Fang, is wrapping up his first season heading the women’s side. Fang has over 20 years of collegiate volleyball coaching experience to lean on in his time with the Badgers.

“I am very happy to be here,” Fang said. “This is a new challenge.”

His first coaching position was as the head coach of Baoding Normal University in Hebei, China. Fang then came to the United States where he earned his master’s degree in physical education from Brooklyn College in New York in 1999.

From there, he took a position as head coach for the Manhattanville College women’s volleyball team for one year before he became the assistant coach for Division I school Murray State University.

Fang would hold this position from 2001-2016 and won seven championships within their conference, including three trips to the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

After taking some time to focus on family, Fang took the head coaching job at University of Southwest in New Mexico, an NAIA Division I school, in 2018. Then, in 2020, he was the head coach of NCAA Division II school, Bluefield State College in West Virginia. This was his final coaching assignment before landing at NVU Johnson for the 2021-2022 academic year.

The Badger’s women’s team, which plays in the fall, boasts an impressive second place position in the NAC East. Their last game of the season was played on Oct. 25 against the Lyndon Hornets.

“We have a very simple goal,” Fang said. “That is [develop] teamwork, play smart, and win a conference championship. No matter if we win or lose, we are all a team.”

Fang was attracted to the dual coaching position at NVU-Johnson for several reasons, the first being that he would finally have the opportunity to coach a men’s team, a first for Fang.

“I have played on men’s volleyball teams, but now I get to coach one at the Division III level,” Fang said, “I am happy for the opportunity to coach — to use volleyball to make us mentally strong.”

Fang was also drawn by sense of community that a smaller institution like NVU-Johnson can offer. “I’ve coached at a big school for over ten years and still didn’t know everybody,” he said. “Here, I walk around campus, and people are saying, ‘Hi coach’ to me. That is something that I like. [NVU] has good academics and feels like a family.”

The new volleyball coach also has a great deal of respect and admiration for the administrators within the athletic department. “[Greg] Eckman is a very good athletic director. He is very organized and works hard to support his coaches,” Fang said. “Alfred Johnson is a great assistant athletic director too. At a small school, we support each other and can enjoy friendship… James [Nichols], the head athletic trainer, has been great to my team as well.”

Fang also went on to praise the performance of his team, in particular the performances of Jimmi Lynn Williams and Christina Betham at their Oct. 16-17 games. “They did a really good job, and I hope that their efforts will be recognized by their peers.”

As for how he hopes to be perceived as a coach, Fang was very clear:  “I hope my team thinks of me as a super nice coach. I am here for them and want to support them.”

Looking ahead, Fang feels optimistic that both the men’s and women’s programs will be strong and that they will have the opportunity to compete for championships. Fang said that his welcome to campus has made him feel, “warm right here,” while placing his hand over his heart. “I am excited for this new opportunity.”

If the success of the women’s volleyball team is any indication, Fang is off to a very good start.