The 2019-20 season is Melanie Sanford’s 17th year as the head coach of the University of Regina’s women’s volleyball team. Sanford, who took over as the program’s head coach beginning with the 2002-03 season, has the most conference wins (146) and postseason wins (7) of any coach in U of R history. The Cougars have participated in the U SPORTS Championship twice during her tenure, finishing fifth in the 2010 tournament (Edmonton) and sixth in 2014 (Regina).
Sanford is a two-time recipient of Canada West Coach of the Year honours, earning the award in 2018 after leading a young Cougars squad to a 12-12 record and again in 2019 following a 16-8 season that gave the U of R a home playoff series for just the fourth time in program history.
Primarily a setter during her playing career, Sanford was a five-year member of the University of Saskatchewan’s volleyball team and won three national championships with the Huskiettes. She was a three-time first-team All-Canadian, a three-time Canada West first-team all-star, and a two-time conference second-team all-star. Sanford was also a member of both the junior and senior national teams. A graduate of Bedford Road Collegiate and the U of S, Sanford is a member of the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame, the University of Saskatchewan Wall of Fame, and as an athlete and a builder in the Saskatchewan Volleyball Hall of Fame
Sanford began her university head coaching career at Concordia in Montreal, where she coached from 1988 to 1999. She was an assistant at the University of Alberta from 2001 to 2002 before accepting her current position at the U of R. She was the first person to achieve NCCP Level V coaching status in Canada.
Sanford has accumulated extensive national team coaching experience, beginning in 2003 as an assistant coach with the junior national team. She was an assistant coach with the national ‘B’ team in 2004 and 2005 and accompanied the team to the 24th Summer Universiade in Izmir, Turkey. In 2006, Sanford served as the head coach of the junior national team during the NORCECA Championships in Monterrey, Mexico. Sanford spent the summer of 2007 with the national ‘B’ team again, accompanying the squad as the team leader and assistant coach to the 25th Summer Universiade in Bangkok, Thailand.
She also has experience with men’s and women’s volleyball at the World University Games, most recently serving as the technical delegate at the 2015 Summer Universiade in Gwangju, South Korea and as assistant technical delegate at the 2013 event in Kazan, Russia. Sanford was also a member of the technical sub-committee for volleyball jurors at the Kazan event as well as in 2011 (China), 2009 (Serbia), 2003 (South Korea), and 1999 (Japan). After working in court operations in 2016 for FIVB World League matches in Saskatoon and in 2017 for the FIVB Women’s World Grand Prix in Richmond, B.C., Sanford has served as the FIVB technical delegate for the Volleyball Nations League (Chicago, 2018 and Nebraska, 2019), the Women’s World Championship (Japan, 2018), the 30th Summer Universiade (Italy, 2019), and for a women’s Olympic qualifying event (Louisiana, 2019). She was also appointed as the FISU Technical Committee Chair for 2017 through 2021, and was selected to attend the Summer Olympics in Tokyo as an FIVB technical delegate.
Sanford stepped away from coaching during the 2016-17 season to take on key roles within the Athletics department, most notably the department review in fall of 2016 and with the newly established Athlete Health and Performance Initiative. Sanford returned as the program’s head coach in May of 2017.