PULLMAN, Wash. – Long before Beasley Coliseum and Martin Stadium, there has always been Bohler Gym, nestled in the heart of Washington State University.
Bohler Gym was established in 1928, and it started out as a home for many sports here in Pullman. WSU men and women’s basketball played inside Bohler, while baseball and football conditioned and held meetings inside the gym’s walls, too.
While these sports eventually moved on to bigger facilities, Bohler Gym has always been the home for WSU Volleyball.
And Bohler Gym has always been a home for Rod Commons. He was the head sports information director for WSU Athletics from 1977 to 2008. He retired 13 years ago, but that does not stop him from coming back to Bohler.
“I haven’t missed a volleyball match this year, or last year, or the year before,” Commons said.
Bohler is a very notable gym in the PAC-12 Conference.
“When you’re here for a volleyball match, you can tell that it is very unique and very impressive,” Commons said. “This is the only court in the conference that is dedicated solely to volleyball.”
The WSU Cougars (20-12, 13-7) made their sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance this season, a school record. The team swept the Northern Colorado Bears (24-7, 13-3) in the first round, but unfortunately fell short against the Baylor University Bears (22-5, 14-2) in the second round.
“The reason that Washington State is so good in volleyball, six straight NCAA appearances, is because of the coaching staff and the great job they’ve done of bringing student athletes in here who can play at this level,” Commons said.
The key addition to this coaching staff is head coach Jen Greeny. Greeny grew up in the small town of Davenport, Washington, and came to Pullman in 1995 to play volleyball for WSU.
Greeny became the seventh player in WSU history with 1,000 career kills and went on to train with the U.S. National Volleyball team during the summer of 1997.
Greeny has been the head coach for WSU volleyball for 11 years. She has led this team to victory, and she knows what it means to play in Bohler Gym.
“As an athlete, she was very committed, very serious,” Commons said. “This wasn’t fun and games, and she likes to win.”
Greeny is not one to boast about herself, as all her attention is focused on her team’s success today, but it never hurts to look back on the past at times.
“Not to brag, but we were pretty good, as well. We went to the NCAA Tournament, and almost went to the Final Four one year,” Greeny said. “I remember Bohler Gym and how packed it would be every single time that we played.”
Rewinding back to 2002, when Greeny was the assistant coach for WSU volleyball, she remembers the Cougars match against the then No. 1 Stanford Cardinal. The Cougs won, beating Stanford for only the second time in WSU volleyball history.
“The fire marshal had to come and not let any more people in,” Greeny said. “I still run into Coug fans to this day who say that that was one of their top five sporting events they’ve ever been to.”
It was a day to remember in Bohler Gym. The Cougars appeared in the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament that season, the only other time being when Greeny was playing on the court. Bohler is small, but mighty. It can fit about 3,000 people inside its walls. That many people inside a gym like Beasley Coliseum does not feel like much, but inside Bohler, that is a different story.
“In here, if we have that many people, the place really gets rocking,” Greeny said.
When students, family, and friends fill the stands, Bohler comes alive, becoming a home for all.
Steve Grubbs has been the play-by-play commentator for WSU volleyball for 18 years.
“Ever since Jen Greeny and this current coaching staff came in, there’s just been an energy and a revival of the program itself,” Grubbs said.
Grubbs travels with the team, calling each play, attending each match. He said no other court in the PAC-12 Conference compares to Bohler. This gym is a home for him, too.
“No matter where I go, it just has this unique feel to it because of its size, and when you do get a full house and it’s packed, the noise that it generates makes it truly a one-of-a-kind home court advantage,” Grubbs said.
The energy in Bohler is addicting, some fans cannot get enough.
“They get a taste of it, and they’re not going to let go of it,” Commons said.