Giovanazzi Former US Olympic Volleyball Coach Passes Away

March 20, 2012, 9:22 p.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman
Associate Director, Communications
Phone: 719-228-6800

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 20, 2012) – USA Volleyball was saddened to learn of the news that former U.S. Women’s National Team Assistant Coach Greg Giovanazzi passed away on March 19.

“Greg was one of the most positive personalities in our sport,” USA Volleyball Chief Executive Officer Doug Beal said. “He made everyone around him feel and perform better in every situation he was involved. This is just a sad and shocking loss. All our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Deb and daughter, Casey.”

Giovanazzi was the first assistant coach for the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team from 1990 to 1994. He helped the U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team to the bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Giovanazzi was a member of the 1994 Goodwill Games coaching staff in which the U.S. finished with the silver medal. He later served as an advisor at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

"Gio was an outstanding coach who helped catapult our U.S. Women's Team to be one of the elite teams in the world in the early 1990s,” said Terry Liskevych, the U.S. Women’s National Team head coach from 1985 to 1996 and current head women’s volleyball coach at Oregon State University. “He had an extraordinary gift of connecting with every player and always positively lifted the energy levels of everyone he touched. We established a wonderful bond in our years together at USA Volleyball and shared a great friendship since. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten."

Giovanazzi took a position as an assistant coach at his alma mater, UCLA, upon his graduation in 1981. He assisted with both the men's and women's volleyball programs from 1981-1990. Throughout his time with the Bruins, he played a role in three NCAA Championships and six appearances in the NCAA semifinals.

"Greg Giovanazzi was the chronicler of all things Bruin men's volleyball," UCLA Men’s Head Volleyball Coach Al Scates said in a UCLA press release. "He was the official storyteller -- the oral historian -- of UCLA men's volleyball. He was also a close friend and I will miss him deeply.”

Giovanazzi spent two seasons at Santa Monica College in 1982 and 1983 where he won the 1983 Southern California Coach of the Year honors and led his team to the state finals. He was an assistant coach at the University of Hawaii for one season in 1980 and won the WCAC Championship.

Giovanazzi served as head coach at the University of Michigan from 1992 to 1998, recording 104 victories and an NCAA Tournament berth in 1997 and competed in the 1995 NIVC Tournament. During his seven years with the Wolverines, he coached eight All-Big Ten players. Severe migraines forced Giovanzazzi to resign from his Michigan post.

Giovanazzi suffered from chronic migraines for most of his life, and stepped down from several coaching positions because of his medical condition.

After a brief spell away from the collegiate game, Giovanazzi coached at Loyola University (Md.) in 2001 before being the interim coach at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County from 2003 to 2004. He moved on to serve as the head volleyball coach at Johns Hopkins University in 2008 and 2009, compiling a 36-17 record. He served as a volunteer coach for the Columbia Comets of the Chesapeake Volleyball Region through 2011 when he decided to retire from coaching.

As an athlete, Giovanazzi was a three-time USA Volleyball All-American. He played for UCLA from 1975 to 1979 and was a member of the 1976 national championship team. In 1978, Giovanazzi competed on a squad that reached the NCAA finals. He earned a spot on the 1977 U.S. Men’s Junior National Team which reached the FIVB Men’s Junior World Championship and earned a bronze medal at the Pac Rim Championships.

Giovanazzi earned a spot on the U.S. Men's National Team and competed in the Pan American and World University Games, where he was team captain. He also played in the Italian Professional League in 1979 and 1986.