Former UW blocker Leslie Gabriel becomes Husky Volleyball’s newest Head Coach after dedicating 22 seasons on staff. The 2020 AVCA National Assistant Coach of the Year helped build Washington into a national powerhouse. During Leslie’s tenure, the Huskies have won seven Pac-12 Conference titles and have advanced to 21-straight NCAA tournaments, reaching the Final Four five times. She is excited to continue the program’s amazing tradition of excellence and student-athlete development.
As a former student-athlete, what was it like playing for UW?
I loved playing for Bill Neville and Diane Flick. They always asked us to go hard and compete every day. I also had great teammates. While I don’t remember all the wins and losses, I do remember the great times I had with them.
What influenced your love for sport?
I grew up surrounded by a love of sports, instilled by my father (Manu Tuiasosopo) who once played for the Seahawks. He wanted to ensure that we learned life lessons like teamwork and dedication. My brothers Marques and Zach picked up Football and Basketball as children and each eventually joined teams here at UW. My little sister Ashley got her hands on Softball and was part of the women’s team here. I grew up playing Basketball, but in ninth grade I started Volleyball and fell in love with it.
What was it like growing up in such an athletic family?
Our family was always taught to be supportive of each other, from attending each other’s sporting events to family gatherings. My siblings and I always had each other’s backs. I remember going to our uncle’s place every Thanksgiving and the kids gathering for a friendly dessert competition with our parents as judges. It was a lot of fun!
Why did you start coaching?
I got into coaching because of my love for the game of Volleyball. I knew after I was done playing professionally overseas that I still wanted to be around the game, so I emailed Bill Neville to see if there were any openings to coach at Washington.
What does it mean to be Washington’s next Head Coach?
I have a lot of great pride in this university and in the program. It meant a lot when I got the call from Jen Cohen. I’m super excited about the future here and am honored to be the head coach.
How do donors make an impact?
Our program is lucky to have such amazing supporters. Their generosity provides our team with everything from endowed scholarships to new equipment and funding for foreign tours. Last summer our team had the opportunity to play in Slovenia, Italy and France — truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players.
What future projects can donors help support?
Our locker room and team room have not been updated since 2005. Our girls rely on these spaces every day; it’s where they prepare for each big game. Redoing these spaces would help support them and help with our recruiting.
What do you do outside of the game?
I shared my passion for sports with my three children, like how my dad shared it with us growing up. They keep me and my husband very busy! They’re currently playing Basketball and Baseball, and we all go to each of their sporting events.
What is your vision for UW Volleyball?
My goal is to win NCAA and Pac-12 championships and graduate every single player that comes through our program. While pursuing those goals, we as a staff are developing these young women to be the best students, players and people they can be. I want our student-athletes to leave Washington with life skills — knowing the value of hard work, how to deal with adversity and the importance of teamwork.