Entering his fifth season as the head coach at the University of Oklahoma, Santiago Restrepo has brought the program to new heights in just four seasons at the helm of the program. Pairing his international recruiting with his hard-working, blue collar coaching style, Restrepo has made a name for Oklahoma within the volleyball community.
The program felt Restrepo's impact as soon as he arrived on campus from his previous coaching stop at Southern Mississippi. In his first season at the helm of the Sooner program, he led the 2004 OU squad to a 12-17 record. No Sooner squad had produced a better record since the 1997 squad that reached the NCAA Tournament.
While the 2004 season caught many people's eye, nobody would predict what would happen two years later as Restrepo led the Sooners to the best season in school history. The 2006 season broke plenty of OU records and sparked momentum for the 2007 season.
Restrepo earned Big 12 and Regional Coach of the Year honors and was recognized by CVU.com as its National Coach of the Year as he led the Sooners to the best one-year turnaround in Big 12 history. Behind Restrepo's leadership, the Sooners recorded the best winning percentage in school history with a 28-6 record (.824) and finished a program-best second in the Big 12 Conference race (17-3).
Restrepo's successful 2006 season included OU's first-ever win over Texas in the series history as well as entry into the 2006 NCAA Tournament for only the fourth time in school history and the program's second Sweet 16 trip. Oklahoma finished the season as one of the best in the country with a No. 12 final ranking, its highest in history.
The Oklahoma players also felt the presence of Restrepo, individually, as all five seniors of the 2006 class earned All-Big 12 recognition while Joanna Schmitt and Eliane Santos became the second and third All-Americans in school history.
OU did not disappoint in 2007, either. After being picked ninth in the preseason coaches' poll, the Sooners advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season. It also marked the second time in OU history that the Sooners made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
Senior outside hitter Sarah Weiland represented OU on the All-Big 12 honorable mention team, while freshman Francie Ekwerekwu was named to the All-Big 12 freshman team. For their efforts in the classroom, five Sooners earned Academic All-Big 12 honors and three were named Academic All-District.
The history-making 2006 and 2007 seasons were remarkable, considering they followed a 2005 season that saw the Sooners finish 7-22.
However, Restrepo was getting his tools in place in 2005 for the historic next year as his recruiting skills shined with the addition of juco transfer Santos. In her junior season, Santos made her mark on Big 12 volleyball, finishing in the top five in the conference in blocks and kills and was named one of Collegiate Volleyball Update's top-five blockers in the country.
Restrepo was named the fourth head coach in OU volleyball history on January 26, 2004. During the search process, OU Athletics Director Joe Castiglione and Senior Woman Administrator Stephanie Rempe were set on making a program-changing hire that fit perfectly into the values of the university.
When Rempe, who chaired the hiring process, called around to coaching colleagues of Santiago Restrepo, there was a consistent message: "That he would not be outworked and that he always got the most out of his players."
Thethen-reigning Conference USA Coach of the Year, Restrepo, left Southern Mississippi to fulfill a dream of coaching in the Big 12.
In Restrepo's final season at Southern Miss, he led his 2003 team to a program-best 27-6 record.
That squad reeled off three winning streaks of at least six matches, including one eight-win string, the longest in school history. Three Golden Eagle players garnered All-Conference USA honors during Restrepo's three-year tenure, including two in his final season. He left Southern Miss with a conference record of 52-40 (.565) and an overall mark of 127-72 (.638).
Perhaps the most remarkable part of the Golden Eagles' 27-win season is that it came just two years after a nine-win campaign. His first season with Southern Miss, 2001, was difficult by all accounts. The team went 9-19 and finished 11th in Conference USA. One recruiting class later, his 2002 team improved to 16-15 and finished the conference season in eighth place. The team was sold on Restrepo's coaching plan and tremendous success was around the corner in 2003.
Prior to coaching at Southern Miss, Restrepo served three seasons (1998-2000) as an assistant coach at Saint Louis University under Marilyn Nolen. Restrepo brought a tough training regimen to the Billiken program in 1998, and his dedication and work sparked an immediate improvement.
That year, Saint Louis posted its fourth best single-season winning percentage in school history at 21-7 (.750). In 2000, he helped the Billikens to 23 victories, the most since 1996.
A native of Bogota, Colombia, Restrepo served as the women's head coach at East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University from 1995-97.
He led the Warriors to a 21-11 record and a semifinal finish in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) in his first season in the league. East Stroudsburg posted its best record in school history with a 32-2 mark in 1996. For his team's efforts, Restrepo was named PSAC Coach of the Year. During his tenure, he led ESU to a 75-32 (.735) overall record.
A former NCAA Division I All-American at East Stroudsburg, Restrepo was also a four-time all-conference selection. He earned team Most Valuable Player honors all four years and was the co-winner of the Senior Athlete Award in 1986.
Following his collegiate career, Restrepo played one season professionally in France and returned to the United States where he played on the American Volleyball Players Pro Beach Tour.
He earned a 3A player rating on the AVP tour and had the opportunity to play against some of the giants of professional beach volleyball, including Karch Kiraly, Sinjin Smith, Randy Stoklos and Kent Steffes.
Highly involved in the international circuit and USA Volleyball, Restrepo served as co-head coach of one of two USA Volleyball under-22 select teams that toured Argentina in June 2005 and 2006.
Restrepo and his wife, Heidi Nichols, have two sons, Diego Ignacio (4), and Javier Santiago (2).