B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: (719) 228-6800
ANAHEIM, Calif. (Dec. 2, 2008) - In 1990, Hugh McCutcheon was a young, aspiring volleyball player in New Zealand who had gone about as far as he could go with the sport in his native land.
That same year, Carl McGown, who had already helped coach two gold medal winning Olympic teams, was named the head coach of the new men’s volleyball team at Brigham Young University and was looking for players.
Eighteen years later, both men were in Beijing watching the players of the U.S. Men’s Volleyball Team receive their Olympic gold medals; McCutcheon as the head coach and McGown as part of his staff.
It’s been quite a ride.
“What I often thought about (in Beijing) was Hugh,” McGown said. “What a great journey he has had. If you are trying to plan a life, this is an example of how it’s impossible to do it. Eighteen years ago, when Hugh first arrived in Provo, there was no planning this – we couldn't even imagine it.”
For his part, McCutcheon was more than pleased to have one of his greatest mentors at his side.
“It was great that Carl was able to scout and coach with us in Beijing. He has one of the best volleyball minds in the world and it was wonderful to be able to share this Olympic experience with him.”
McCutcheon found out about the new team at BYU from USA Volleyball staffer, John Kessel, who was visiting New Zealand and Australia.
McCutcheon traveled to Utah and played at BYU from 1991-93 after transferring from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. He received an All-American honorable mention in 1993. He played professionally overseas for two years before returning to BYU in 1995 to serve as McGown’s top assistant coach and recruiter for BYU from 1995-2001. The team won the NCAA Men’s Volleyball National Championship in 1999 and 2001.
“I learned a ton playing for and coaching with Carl. My time in his gym was defining and formative in terms of my coaching development.”
After leaving BYU, McCutcheon served as head coach of the Vienna Hotvolleys in Austria for two seasons. During the summers, he assisted with USA Volleyball’s Men’s National Team program. In 2003, he joined USA Volleyball as a full time assistant coach.
Meanwhile, McGown retired from BYU in 2002. However, then-U.S. Head Coach Doug Beal hired McGown to help the U.S. Men’s Team, bringing him back together with McCutcheon.
“Doug was very amenable to some of the changes we wanted to make,” McGown said of his time as an assistant with McCutcheon. “We changed some of the fundamental movement patterns and practice routines.”
The two helped the U.S. Men finish fourth at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens; a vast improvement over its 11th-place finish in 2000 in Sydney.
When 2008 rolled around, McCutcheon, now the U.S. Men’s head coach, invited McGown to return to the team to finish what they had started.
“We were fortunate to have him there, he was great,” McCutcheon said.
McGown and McCutcheon were not the only two former Cougar coaches in Beijing. The BYU coaching staff in 1999 also included Troy Tanner, who was in Beijing as the coach of beach volleyball players Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, and Rob Browning, who served as the U.S. Men’s team leader in China.
“Having Rob there along with Ron Larsen (another former Cougar), Marv Dunphy (also a BYU grad), John Speraw, and Jamie Morrison we were thinking we had a pretty good coaching staff,” McGown said with a laugh. “It turns out that we did.”
McGown and McCutcheon have each watched the other grow and change as a coach over the years.
“Carl is great at teaching the game. His coaching has certainly evolved over the last 18 years,” McCutcheon said. “Not only is he fundamentally sound as far as the science he applies, he’s also smart enough to figure out that the game is organic and it changes. He’s able to change with the times – he’s a wonderful volleyball coach.”
And if the opportunity arose, would McGown return to the court for the 2012 Games in London?
“I’m going to be in my wheelchair,” McGown joked. “Who knows about something like that? I’m grateful that Hugh asked me to do it this time. It was truly wonderful to be a part of Hugh’s amazing journey.”