A six-time New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Coach of the Year, Cora Thompson runs one of the top women's volleyball programs in New England.
Now in her 17th season, Coach Thompson's Tufts teams have compiled a 366-130 overall record during her tenure. The .738 career winning percentage ranks her 19th on the NCAA Division III active coaches list. She has directed the Jumbos to eight NCAA Tournaments, including two "Elite 8" appearances. Among the team's 366 wins during her careeer are 2016's 27-4 record, a 28-6 season in 2004, a 29-7 finish in 2005, a 29-4 record in 2008 and a 31-5 mark for 2009.
A 1999 graduate of Tufts who played for the Jumbos, Coach Thompson has guided the team to NCAA berths in 2005, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2014 and 2016-17. Tufts hosted NCAA Regionals in Cousens Gym in 2008, 2009 and 2016. They won the Regional title and advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2009 and 2016. Thompson's first NCAA team in 2005 played into the Regional final.
The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Northeast Region Coach of the Year for 2017, Thompson was named the conference's Coach of the Year for the second straight year and for the third time in four seasons (including 2014) that year. She received the NESCAC honor in back-to-back seasons for 2008 and 2009 as well, and won for the first time in 2004. Five times she has directed Tufts to the #1 seed in NESCAC for the regular-season (including back-to-back in 2016-17) and her teams have played in seven conference championship finals. Tufts has an outstanding 126-34 record in conference play (.788 winning percentage) since Coach Thompson took over, including 10-0 marks in 2008, 2016 and 2017.
In addition to receiving AVCA Regional Coach of the Year in 2017, Thompson was the Northeast Coach of the Year for 2016 as well. She has also been recognized as the New England Women's Volleyball Association Coach of the Year three times (2016, 2008 and 2004).
Student-athletes recruited to Tufts by Thompson have excelled athletically and academically. Current sophomore Cate Desler was the NEWVA and NESCAC Rookie of the Year last season. Current seniors Heather Holz and Christina Nwankpa joined 2019 graduate Mackenzie Bright as AVCA Division III All-Americans for 2017. That marked the first year since 2008 that the Jumbos have had three players receive AVCA All-America recognition. Maddie Kuppe, a 2016 graduate, earned AVCA Second Team All-America honors. She was one of just three players in New England on the top two All-American teams that year. Setter Dena Feiger received second team AVCA All-America in 2009. She was named NESCAC Player of the Year that season, an award for which Jumbo Kendall Lord was a co-recipient in 2011.
Kuppe was also an Academic All-District selction in 2016, one of just two NESCAC players to receive the honor. Feiger and defensive specialist Natalie Goldstein were selected to the AVCA Academic All-America Team during their careers. Dozens of Jumbo volleyball players have been named to the Academic All-NESCAC teams under Coach Thompson, including four last season. The team has an outstanding 3.493 cumulative grade point average.
Coach Thompson's Jumbos are also actively involved in the community. Among their charitable endeavers last season was participating in the Boston Children's Hospital Dance Marathon.
Thompson has been associated with the volleyball program for over 20 years since enrolling at Tufts from Half Moon Bay, California in 1995. She was a defensive specialist for the Jumbos, and was a sophomore on the 1996 Tufts team that was the first to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. She also played in three NCAA Tournaments as a four-year starter at shortstop on the softball team. Graduating in 1999, Thompson went on to earn her Master's degree in Education from Tufts in 2001. After three seasons as an assistant coach with the Jumbos, she was promoted to head coach of the volleyball program in 2002.
Cora and her wife Kendra live in Stow, Massachusetts with their daughter, Taedyn, and their son, Tucker.