Hal Clifton became the ninth head coach in the history of the North Carolina A&T volleyball program on August 2, 2011 when Director of Athletics Earl Hilton announced his signing. He came to A&T with the charge of leading the Aggies back to the success they enjoyed during the 1990's and early 2000's. Clifton has made tremendous strides with the program, making four straight MEAC tournaments after the Aggies had not reached the tournament since 2007 before his arrival.
In the process, he coached libero Ashley Johnson to a first-team All-MEAC selection in 2012 and third-team selection in 2015. Johnson also finished her career as the Aggies all-time leader in digs. Outside hitter Brooke Stamnes became the Aggies all-time leader in kills in 2015 and in the same year she was selected second-team All-MEAC. McDaniel, who like Johnson and Stamnes, was a member of Clifton’s first recruiting class as the Aggies head coach, was a third-team All-MEAC selection in 2013. In 2016, Samara Brown showed her advancement under Clifton when she became a first-team All-MEAC member.
The volleyball program also remains one of the top academic programs at A&T as five players were named to the MEAC All-Academic Team in 2011 and ‘12. Aleena McDaniel, along with Johnson, Jasmine Jones and Stamnes were named to the 2013 All-MEAC academic team. Six student-athletes were named to the MEAC All-Academic team in 2014. The program earned a perfect APR score of 1000 in 2015 as four Aggies made the conference’s all-academic team. An additional six players made the MEAC All-Academic team in 2016.
Two-thousand thirteen was a turning point for Clifton’s program. The Aggies made their first appearance in the MEAC tournament since 2007 as the No. 2 seed in the southern division. A&T also secured its first non-conference win since the 2010 season with a 3-2 victory over Alabama A&M in September. Clifton transformed one of the worst teams in the MEAC into a team that routinely qualifies for the MEAC tournament. In his first season, the Aggies were a young team and had the minimum of six players on the roster to start the season. Clifton developed those players and added others to the team as the season progressed. Despite the obstacles, Clifton converted outside hitter Chelsea Fox into a strong setter and he oversaw the steady improvement of middle hitter Andrea Evans.
Clfton came to A&T after concluding his sixth season as the assistant coach of the Elon Phoenix. He played a major part in turning the Phoenix from a 9-23 team in 2005 to a squad that finished in first place in the Southern Conference North Division in 2010 with a 21-14 overall record and an 11-5 mark in the league. Clifton came to Elon University in August of 2005 from St. Andrews Presbyterian College where he served as the assistant coach for the 2004 season.
At St. Andrews, Clifton helped lead the team to the NCAA Division II Tournament and a regional ranking of seventh. The team tied a school record with 14 conference victories and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. Clifton coached four all-conference athletes at St. Andrews and one conference freshman of the year.
Before his stint at St. Andrews, Clifton spent three years as the head coach at Jack Britt High School in Fayetteville, N.C. At Jack Britt, he achieved an overall record of 62-20, including a 28-2 season. Clifton was a three-time Mid-Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year and the Cape Fear Region Coach of the Year in 2003. He led Jack Britt to consecutive conference championships and state tournament appearances in 2002 and '03. Clifton coached three Mid-Southeastern Conference players of the year along with nine all-conference selections.
Clifton also served six seasons as the head coach of the Carolina Region High Performance club team from 2002-2007. In 2003 and '04, he served as the head coach of the developmental team before becoming the head coach of the youth team in 2005. Clifton also spent three seasons with the Fayetteville Area Volleyball Association as a head coach. His 17-and-under team won the Carolina Regional Championship and three other tournaments in 2002.
Clifton graduated with a B.S., degree in athletic training from Appalachian State University in 1994, where he played for the men's volleyball club team. While at Appalachian State, Clifton received the Ron H. "Doc" Kannoy Award for the most outstanding athletic trainer.
He earned his master's in exercise and sport science from the University of Florida in 1996. During his time at Florida, Clifton served as the athletic trainer for the World University Volleyball team while they trained and played exhibition matches throughout the state of Florida prior to going to Japan for competition. As an athletic trainer at Florida, Clifton worked with the 1994 Southeastern Conference Champion football team along with the top ranked men's tennis and men's golf programs.
Clifton and his wife, Jennifer, have two children.