SF State volleyball coaches lead team as brother-sister duo

SFSU volleyball
SF State women's volleyball coach Michelle Patton (right) poses in the gym with her assistant coach and brother Jason Patton on Friday Sept 30. Photo by Elijah Nouvelage.

For the SF State volleyball team’s head and assistant coaches, the sport is more than just a passion or livelihood – it’s a family affair.

That’s because head coach Michelle Patton, 35, and her brother, assistant coach Jason Patton, 38, come from a family of volleyball players.

The love of volleyball started with their mother, Virginia, who was playing at a park one day when she met a man named Scott Patton. She taught him how to play the game, something they would later pass on to their three children: Lisa, 48; Jason and Michelle.

“We’d go to open gyms as a family and almost have a full team walking in the door,” laughed Jason.

Michelle said they even played volleyball inside.

“It was a fun household to grow up in,” Michelle said. “We broke Christmas trees and lamps but our house has high ceilings and my mom didn’t really mind, she was just glad we were having fun. She wasn’t too stressed about the little stuff like that.”

It helped that in the Patton household volleyball was a choice, not a burden. Neither Michelle nor Jason, nor their older sister Lisa, were ever forced to play.

“It’s in our blood,” Michelle added.

There is a large age difference between Jason, Michelle and Lisa, so it was the two younger siblings that spent the most time together. As children, Jason and Michelle often teamed up to play in grass court doubles tournaments.

“Our whole family’s always been close,” Jason said. “Me and Michelle… growing up, we argued, basic brother and sister stuff. I think our mom instilled in us just a love for each other and for family.”

In 2008 Michelle was hired to restart the University’s volleyball program, and she knew immediately that Jason would be the one to help.