Karen Milborn came to Northwestern as an assistant coach in March of 2006. She joined the Wildcats after spending the previous two seasons as the director of volleyball operations at Wisconsin.
A native of Crystal Lake, Ill., Milborn assists in all aspects of the Wildcats' program, including on-court instruction and the coordination of camps. She also coordinates team defense, coaches the outside hitters and liberos, builds scouting reports, handles team travel and oversees NU's coaching clinic.
In her first season with the program, three different Wildcats landed on Northwestern single-season top-10 lists. She helped freshman libero Kate Nobilio to the second-best single-season dig total in school history, and coached Lindsay Anderson into the NU 1,000-Kill Club.
Under Milborn's in-game instruction in 2007, Northwestern set a program record with 339.5 total blocks, holding opponents to a paltry .169 hitting percentage. In addition, middle blocker Chelsy Hyser earned AVCA All-Region accolades, becoming the first Wildcat to win an All-Region honor since 2002.
Milborn grew the Wildcats' volleyball camps into the largest they have ever been in just her first year at the helm of the sessions. She also founded and is the club director of Wildcat Jrs., a five-team club with more than 50 participants. Northwestern student-athletes serve as coaches for the club.
A four-year letterwinner in volleyball at Michigan Tech University from 1998-2001, Milborn set career and season records for digs for the Huskies. She was a three-time second-team all-conference selection and earned academic all-conference honors three seasons.
Milborn was named a team co-captain as a junior and was the team MVP as a sophomore. Following the completion of her eligibility, Milborn served as a student assistant coach with the Huskies in 2002 before earning her bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering.
Milborn spent three seasons as the head volleyball coach at Chassell Township High School in Michigan, earning 2002 conference coach of the year honors after taking over a team that had never won a match and leading it to the conference championship the next year.
At Wisconsin, Milborn directed and managed five camps with more than 1,000 participants, 40 employees and five sites.
She is a seasoned clinician with strong club ties, having served as the youth development director with Wisconsin Power Volleyball and as club director at the Fusion Volleyball Academy in Crystal Lake, Ill. In addition to her duties as Fusion's club directory, in 2003 Milborn served as facility manager for the entire Fusion Sports Center.
With Wisconsin Power Volleyball in 2004, Milborn led the 18 White team to its first Junior Olympic Nationals, preparing all 10 players for careers in collegiate volleyball.