We are halfway through our rankings for our Top 40 UCF Knights Head Coaches of all-time. Here is a look at the previous rankings:
- Top 40 UCF Knights Head Coaches of All-Time #40-31
- Top 40 UCF Knights Head Coaches of All-Time #30-21
Now we continue our rankings:
#20 - Katie Abrahamson-Henderson (Women’s Basketball)
Since her arrival, Coach “Abe” has led UCF to milestone after milestone. She’s won 20 games in each of her first four seasons - something UCF has never done since joining DIvision I. She also led UCF to its first-ever appearance in The American Championship Game in 2019.
Under Coach Abe, the Knights have made postseason three times, including the program’s first-ever at-large NCAA bid in 2019, along with two WNIT appearances in 2017 and 2018. Currently, Coach Abe has 89 wins, which is only 25 wins shy of the school record, despite only being at UCF 4 seasons.
#19 - Laura Smith (Volleyball)
Following a Hall of Fame career as a player, Laura Smith returned to UCF as head volleyball coach from 1991-97, leading the team to a 188-74 record and six consecutive TAAC (now Atlantic Sun) titles.
The Knights went to NCAA Tournament five times (1992-1997) during her tenure and won 65 consecutive matches against conference opponents. Smith coached the Knights to the second round of NCAA Tournament in 1997, which was her final season at UCF.
#18 - Johnny Dawkins (Men’s Basketball)
Johnny Dawkins was named UCF’s seventh head men’s basketball coach on March 23, 2016, and in four seasons Dawkins has led the program to new heights.
He took over at UCF at a time when the Knights hadn’t finished above .500 since 2012-13. In his first year, he led the Knights to a 24-12 record, which was the sixth-best turnaround in the nation, and that was with just seven scholarship players on the roster due to transfers and injuries. UCF made it to the NIT Final Four at Madison Square Garden.
Dawkins also earned UCF its first at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament in 2018-19. It was the first time UCF had been to the NCAA Tournament since 2005. The Knights were a #9 seed in the tourney, their highest seed in five appearances, and beat #8-seeded VCU, 73-58, for the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament victory.
UCF then came inches away from upsetting top overall seed Duke in the second round, ultimately falling 77-76 to Mike Krzyzewski, Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and company as BJ Taylor’s floater rimmed out and Aubrey Dawkins’ tip-in barely missed at the buzzer.
UCF finished the year 24-9, tied for the fourth most wins in a single season in program history. They cracked the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2011, earning a ranking of 25th late in the regular season. It was the latest into a season that the Knights have ever been ranked.
#17 - Todd Dagenais (Volleyball)
Entering his 13th season, Todd Dagenais ranks first in UCF Volleyball history with 237 wins. His tenure with the Knights includes three NCAA tournament appearances, along with three American Conference Championships (2014, 2018, and 2019) and an appearance in the NIVC in 2017.
In 2014, the Knights won their first AAC Championship and punched their first ticket to the NCAA Tournament since 2003. The Knights won The American again in 2018 after going undefeated in conference play in 2018. Their third appearance was in 2019 as UCF won the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship Tournament by winning three matches in three days, including a thrilling final over top-seed CIncinnati, earning them an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Dagenais’s first NCAA Tournament victory came at the expense of Florida State on December 5, 2019. After defeating the Seminoles in five, Dagenais secured his spot as UCF Volleyball’s all-time winningest head coach, passing Lucy McDaniel for his 237th career win.
#16 - Scott Calabrese (Men’s Soccer)
In just three seasons at UCF, Scott Calabrese has guided the Knights to back-to-back American Athletic Conference regular season titles and NCAA Tournament appearances (2018 and 2019).
In his first year, UCF started 1-5-1 and didn’t play their home opener until October due to weather cancellations. Then, the Knights went unbeaten in their next eight before losing the AAC title in heartbreaking fashion to SMU.
Since that 2017 home opener, UCF has gone 35-6-6 under Calabrese, including a 22-3-5 record at home.
2019 was the best season in program history as the Knights posted a 15-3-2 record and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, the farthest the program has ever gone. The 15 wins tied a program high and was the highest win total in UCF’s Division I history.
For the second straight season, Calabrese and staff earned the American Athletic Conference Coaching Staff of the Year. They went 16 straight matches without a loss, beating the previous record of 10 which was set the previous season. The Knights also picked up their second straight national seed ahead of the NCAA Tournament, checking in at #9. In the second round, the Knights defeated Missouri State 2-1 in overtime, marking the first time that UCF had advanced to the third round of the tournament.
For two years running, Calabrese has implemented arguably the most exciting brand of soccer in the nation. Over the last two seasons, the Knights have been ranked in the top 10 in the nation in almost every offensive category, including assists, shots, shots per game, goals, points, scoring offense, points per game, assists per game and goals per game. They were the top team in shots per game and shots on goal per game in 2018 and led the nation in corners in 2019.
#15 - Emily Marron (Women’s Golf)
SInce taking over at UCF in 2012, Emily Marron has led the Knights to five NCAA Tournament Appearances, two conference titles (2015 and 2017) and an NCAA Regional Title in 2019.
In 2019, Marron led UCF to the National Championships. The Knights won two tournaments during the season, one at the Princess Anne Invitational and another at the Moon Golf Invitational. UCF also had four top-five finishes, including second at The American Championship.
The Knights were ranked 51st at the end of the regular season and earned a berth to the NCAA West Regional in Cle Elum, Washington. UCF shot eight-under on the final nine holes on the last day to head to the National Championship in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where they 22nd.
Marron recapped the run with us on the Black and Gold Banneret Podcast:
Marron was named American Athletic Conference Coach of the year in 2015 and 2017.
The Knights won the 2017 American Athletic Conference championship and swept the conference’s major awards. Marron was named Coach of the Year, and UCF earned an NCAA Regional berth for the fourth time in five years under her guidance. The Knights were also ranked in the Top 25 for much of the season and finished 28th in the final GolfWeek rankings.
In 2015, Marron led the Knights to their first conference title since 2000. UCF won the 2015 American Athletic Conference title by eight shots, pulling away from the field down the stretch. The Knights were ranked in the Top 25 throughout most of the season, including a program-best #15 ranking in the preseason. UCF also posted five top-5 finishes in 10 events that season.
#14 - Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak (Women’s Soccer)
Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak took over for long-time head coach Amanda Cromwell in 2013 and has continued UCF’s success on the pitch. Sahaydak is a three-time American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year (2013,2014 & 2017), and has led the Knights to three American Conference Championships (2013, 2014 and 2017), and four trips to the NCAA Tournament (2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017) including a Sweet 16 run in 2014. Sahaydak’s record at UCF in seven seasons is 89-35-16.
Sahaydak played for the U.S. Women’s National Team and won an Olympic gold medal in 1996 in Atlanta and the World Cup in 1999. Roberts Sahaydak played for North Carolina in college, winning two national championships (1996 and 1997) while finishing 3rd for the 1998 Herman Award, which goes to the best college soccer player.
#13- Bryce Wallor (Men’s Golf)
In Bryce Wallor’s eleven seasons at UCF since taking over in 2009, the Knights have won an NCAA Regional title (2017) and two conference championships (2010 and 2011). The Knights have made the NCAA postseason seven times (2010-14, 2017 and 2018), and made the NCAA Championships four times (2012, 2013, 2017 and 2018). Check out Jeff Sharon’s interview with Wallor from May 25, 2017:
UCF put together two of its best NCAA Championship performances under Wallor, finishing 14th in 2017 and 16th in 2013, along with appearances in 2012 and 2018. UCF has won 24 tournament championships and 22 individual titles during Wallor’s time.
In 2019-2020, Wallor led the Knights to one of their crowning achievements; UCF won the home Tavistock Collegiate Invitational at Isleworth for the first time in program history. UCF’s 844 (-20) total at the Tavistock was the lowest stroke total of the year and gave them the victory over some of the top ranked programs in the nation, including #4 Texas Tech, #7 Arizona State and #18 Texas. Johnny Travale also placed first individually with a -12. Following the win at Tavistock, UCF was ranked as high as #16 in the GolfStat.com Rankings.
#12 - Caryl Smith Gilbert (Track & Field/Cross Country)
Caryl Smith Gilbert served as the head coach for the Knights for six seasons (2008-2013), and led UCF to four straight Conference USA outdoor championships (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) and two indoor C-USA championships (2011, 2013). Gilbert was named the National South Region and C-USA outdoor Coach of the Year four times (2010-2013) and National South Region and C-USA Indoor Coach of Year twice (2011 and 2013).
In 2013, the Knights earned a program-best fifth place finish at both the 2013 NCAA Track and Field Outdoor and Indoor Championships, posting the best finish by a power conference team since 2000. Smith coached UCF’s first National Champion in Auriyell Scott, along with Octavious Freeman, Ann Marie-Blaney, Jackie Coward, and 2012 Olympian Afia Charles.
UCF finished in the top 20 three times in the NCAA Outdoor Championships under Gilbert with a 17th place finish on 2011 and a 19th in 2012. UCF also finished 8th in the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships following a 21st place finish in 2011.
Gilbert left UCF after 2013 to become the Director of Track and Field at USC, where she runs both the Trojans’ Women’s and Men’s Track and Field teams.
#11 - Becky Cramer (Rowing)
Becky Cramer has spent 16 seasons at UCF as either the head coach or as an assistant coach. Cramer has been part of all six NCAA Tournament appearances in the program’s history with five as a head coach (2015-2019) and one as an assistant coach (2007).
Cramer took over as the Knights’ interim head rowing coach during the spring of 2008, and since then, UCF Rowing has become a dominant force in the American Athletic Conference, winning the league crown in five consecutive seasons (2015-2019). With the fifth title, the Knights joined UConn Women’s Basketball as the only two women’s programs in The American to win five straight titles in the six-year history of the league.
On June 2, 2019, the Knights made history again as the Varsity Four became the first UCF boat to post a Top 15 finish at the NCAA Championships. Cramer’s team posted its fifth-straight Top 20 overall finish at NCAAs, matching its best team finish at 18th overall.
Cramer recapped the 2017 AAC championship with Jeff Sharon on the 46th episode of the Black and Gold Banneret.
The Knights have won five straight conference titles under Cramer, and are poised to continue their domination of the conference under her guidance.