Purcellville, Va. — Loudoun Valley High School graduate Blair Brown Lipsitz (2006) has been named a Virginia High School League Hall of Fame inductee for the Class of 2017.
Lipsitz – who led the Lady Vikings to a VHSL AA state championship title in 2004 – is one of the most accomplished high school volleyball players in Virginia State history.
“Being named a Hall of Famer is a really cool honor and really a great testament to my team and coaches at Loudoun Valley,” Lipsitz said. “My teammates and I all bought into our goal early on in high school and were able to compete at a high level all four years.”
Earning her VHSL Hall of Fame credentials at Loudoun Valley
Lipsitz was a two-sport standout at Loudoun Valley, earning personal accolades from the moment she stepped foot on to Viking territory. A high school high-jump state champion, Lipsitz is best known for her incredible volleyball career.
While at Loudoun Valley, she was a three-time District Player of the Year, two-time Region Player of the Year, two-time Virginia Gatorade State Player of the Year and was twice named a high school All-American.
“I had the opportunity to play and learn from my coach at Loudoun Valley, Laird Johnson,” Lipsitz said. “He taught me from a young age to just buy into the mission and that if everyone buys in –even if you don’t have the most talented athletes – your team can be successful.”
“I want to thank Bruce Sheppard, who was my track coach at Loudoun Valley,” Lipsitz said. “Coach Sheppard is a big reason I am the person I am today.”
Leaving a legacy at Penn State
After graduating from Loudoun Valley, Lipsitz took her volleyball talents to Pennsylvania State University to play for the Division I Nittany Lions.
“There is a culture there that I don’t think exists anywhere else,” Lipsitz said. “Penn State has a history of success, and we wanted to live up to that standard.”
During her four seasons at Penn State, Lipsitz and her team did much more than live up to a standard of excellence: the Nittany Lions created it. Between 2006 and 2009, Penn State won four consecutive NCAA Division I National Championships in volleyball and went on a winning streak of 109 consecutive matches.
“Coach [Russ] Rose never focused on streaks because he always said streaks end,” Lipsitz said. “It’s great to have a streak, but more important was staying focused on each game and doing the best we could do during that moment.”
On top of the team’s success, Lipsitz was named the National Player of the Year in 2010 and twice named a first team All-American. Also, in 2011, Lipsitz received the Honda Sports Award, given to the best collegiate female athlete in each sport.
Training with the U.S. National Team and playing professionally
Following her storied collegiate career, Lipsitz trained with the U.S. National Team and played three years of professional volleyball in France, Italy and Puerto Rico before turning in her playing days for a shot at coaching Division I volleyball.
From standout athlete to Division I head coach
In April 2015, Lipsitz was named the head coach of the Division I Bulls at the University of Buffalo.
“It’s an everyday challenge, but my dad was a coach for a long time, so I know I can always call him after a tough match or a tough practice,” Lipsitz said. “But really it’s all about the student-athletes and giving them the tools they need while in college to be able to be the best they can be in their lives after volleyball.”
In 2017, Lipsitz will have the opportunity to impress those values on Tuscarora High School senior Vanessa Marinelli, who will make the 400-mile trek to western New York this fall to play for the Bulls.
“I loved being able to recruit Vanessa. Volleyball players come out of Loudoun with great fundamentals which makes my job as a college coach much easier,” Lipsitz said. “It really goes back to the great coaching in Loudoun and the time the coaches take to really teach volleyball.”
As volleyball continues to grow across the country and throughout Loudoun County, Lipsitz made one thing very clear to those who wish to play volleyball at the next level.
“We love recruiting multi-sport athletes. We always tell our recruits not to specialize,” Lipsitz said. “Their parents will ask when they should start specializing, and we don’t want them to. They are kids. These are games. They should be having fun.”
The 28th annual VHSL Hall of Fame induction dinner will be held on Sunday, June 25, in Charlottesville. Loudoun Valley High School graduate Blair Brown Lipsitz (2006) and Park View High School graduate Allen Pinkett (1982) will represent Loudoun County Public Schools as Class of 2017 inductees.