Leaders Lost

Remembering two Nittany Lion coaches and a basketball big man.

black and white photo of three head shots of Tait, Hindelang, and Bogetic by Penn State Athletics

Tom Tait ’61, ’69 PhD H&HD, the first head coach of both the Penn State men’s and women’s volleyball programs, died Jan. 10 at age 86.Tait started the women’s program in 1976 and coached for three seasons, leading the Nittany Lions to the EAIAW Tournament (the predecessor to the NCAA Tournament) in 1977 and 1978. He elevated the men’s program from club to varsity status in 1977 and led the team to eight conference titles and six Final Four appearances in 12 seasons, with a record of 336-97. He previously served as an assistant track and field coach and spent 27 years as a kinesiology and exercise science professor. 

Tait’s success stemmed from his ability to teach, says former player and current Nittany Lion head coach Mark Pavlik ’82 EMS.

“He could explain things at a macro level using words that everybody uses and it just became so much more clear when he did it,” says Pavlik. 

Frank Guadagnino ’78 Bus, who played for Penn State both before and after Tait took over the program, remembers him grading exams in the van during trips to and from matches. In his spare time, Tait would travel to clinics and coaching conferences to learn more about the sport himself and pass that knowledge on to his players. “He never bought into the idea that the teams from California were inherently better and would always win,” Guadagnino says. “He thought the California teams had an edge because they understood the game better having played longer, but it wasn’t because they had an advantage we couldn’t overcome.”

Today, Penn State is one of the most perennially successful programs in the nation. Tait helped the Lions close much of that gap.

“We went from the first varsity team to being in the NCAA finals in six seasons,” Guadagnino says. “That’s pretty amazing when you think back.” 

Former Penn State baseball coach Joe Hindelang, the winningest coach in program history, died Feb. 16 at age 78. Hindelang won 389 games from 1991-2004, leading the Nittany Lions to a Big Ten championship in 1996 and a trip to the Super Regional of the NCAA Tournament in 2000. He coached 43 All-Big Ten players and four All-Americans at Penn State. A letterman in both baseball and basketball at Temple, he pitched in the minor leagues for two seasons before an injury ended his playing career.

Milos Bogetic, a Nittany Lion basketball player from 2005-07, died Jan. 19 after a lengthy battle with esophageal cancer. The native of Podgorica, Serbia and Montenegro, averaged 3.9 points and 2.7 rebounds in two seasons at center for Penn State. He is survived by his wife, Trish, and two children. He was 38.