Manager, Media Relations and Publications
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Nov. 25, 2008) - USA Volleyball announced today that "Jenny" Lang Ping (Beijing, China) has elected not to extend her contract as the head coach for the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team program for the upcoming Olympic quadrennial, according to USAV Chief Executive Officer Doug Beal.
Lang Ping cited the desire for a coaching position that offers more flexibility to spend time with her family as a major factor in her decision.
"At this moment in my life, family comes first and I wish more flexibility to spend time with them," Lang Ping said on her decision to leave USA Volleyball. "I prefer a club volleyball season that lasts five months so that I can spend the other seven months of the year with them.
"I want to thank USA Volleyball for allowing me this opportunity to coach its national team for the past four years," Lang Ping continued. "It was a very challenging job with the many differences in system and culture compared to the Chinese system. Yet, I learned a lot and appreciate this rewarding experience. Although I was somewhat torn with my allegiance to China, it was very satisfying professionally to lead this team to the 2008 Olympic Games silver medal in my home country and also witness China earn the bronze medal."
"USA Volleyball is very fortunate to have had Jenny leading our program for the past four years, and we respect her decision to devote more of her life to family while remaining in the coaching profession," Beal said. "She really performed magnificently under difficult situations throughout her tenure, none bigger than leading the team to the silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games with the unprecedented distractions in her hometown of Beijing. Jenny was at her best in stabilizing a team shocked at learning of the attack on the Bachman family, whose daughter Wiz Bachman McCutcheon was a 2004 Olympic Games teammate to eight of the players, on the first day of competition of the Olympic Games. Not only was her technical coaching superb, but she was able to help manage all the raw emotions of the situation and still led the team to the podium."
Lang Ping was able to guide a group of veteran athletes, eight of which who had previous Olympic Games experience along with four rookie Olympians, to their first Olympic Games podium finish after near-misses in 2000 (fourth place) and 2004 (fifth place).
"The National Team head coach is one of the most difficult jobs there is with all the scheduling, traveling, managing personalities and coaching so many different players attempting to make the Olympic Games roster as a life-long dream," two-time U.S. Olympian and co-captain Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) said. "She did a great job managing all aspects of the team and helping us to reach our full potential at the Olympics with a silver medal. Above all else, she is a very warm-hearted person who cared about us as individuals, not just as players. I wish her the best in her future endeavors."
"It was a pleasure to work with Jenny, and the result that she got out of our team is something that many of us have been looking forward to and working hard towards for some time," three-time U.S. Olympian Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) said. "You never know who it is that can unlock something special in a team, but she managed to find the key to our group of talented young ladies, and I know it was one of the highlights of my career to be on that podium last summer. I thank her for her dedication and patience with us in the journey that could not have been made without her."
During her four-year tenure with the U.S. Women's National Team, Lang Ping compiled a 90-49 record and led Team USA to its first Olympic Games medal since 1992 with the aforementioned silver in Beijing. The Americans finished second in their Olympic Games pool with a 4-1 record including a five-set victory over China in a much-anticipated meeting, then tallied a five-set victory over second-ranked Italy and a sweep of third-ranked Cuba in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. Team USA lost in four sets to top-ranked Brazil in the gold-medal match, but was the only team to take a set from the Olympic champions. The U.S. silver medal matched its previous best finish from the 1984 Olympic Games, its only other Olympic Games reaching the gold-medal match.
Lang Ping's incredible popularity among the Chinese fans was evident during the Olympics. Starting with her arrival at Beijing International Airport in which she was led out via an alternate route, she endured media scrutiny at every step of the way. Despite being under the microscope, her adoring fans cheered for her and the success of the United States team.
"Jenny is at the very top of the elite international coaches in the world and proved it once again by leading the U.S. Women to their success in Beijing," Beal said. "She did a fabulous job in returning Team USA to the Olympic Games medal stand after a 16-year absence. USA Volleyball appreciates the job she has performed over the past four years and looks forward to building on this wonderful achievement and legacy for some years to come."
"I will have many fond memories of my time with the U.S. program," Lang Ping said. "The players always gave their best and represented the United States well. Although there are only 12 players on the Olympic Games roster, many other talented players competed for spots to be on the Olympic Games roster throughout the past four years and helped us become better as a team. With these younger players and the veterans who return, I believe the U.S. will have another great team during the next Olympic quadrennial, and I wish them well in pursuit of gold in London at the 2012 Olympic Games.
"I personally want to thank my coaching staff - Sue Woodstra, Li Yong and Tom Hogan - for their hard work and dedication in making this program successful," Lang Ping said. "In addition, the support staff of Diane French, Emery Hill, Joan Powell and Gen Kawakita devoted so much of their time to this program. The USA Volleyball staff, including Doug Beal, Carla Hall, Kerry Klostermann and Tom Pingel, also assisted this program in so many areas allowing us to reach our potential at the Olympics."
Lang Ping has Olympic medal experience as both a player and coach while competing in the United States. She scored a gold medal as a star outside hitter for China at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Lang Ping returned to the United States as the head coach of the 1996 Chinese Olympic Team and led the squad to a silver medal in Atlanta.
As a coach, Lang Ping is a rarity in the international women's volleyball circles. She was the only female head coach among the top 20 countries listed in the FIVB World Ranking. According to FIVB files, Lang Ping and former Hungary women's team coach Gabriella Kotsis are the only female coaches to lead teams into multiple Olympics. Kotsis led Hungary during the golden era of Hungarian Volleyball, leading the country into three Olympic Games (1972, 1976, 1980).
"Jenny has been a winner at every stage of her volleyball career, first as a star with the Chinese National Team followed by a coaching career that so far has culminated in two Olympic Games silver medals for two different countries," Beal said. "We are so very lucky to have had her these past four years, not only for her qualities as a coach, but also for being such a great leader and role model for our program and athletes."
According to Beal, USA Volleyball intends to act quickly in finding the new head coach for the program.