Greetings to all of you in our wonderful volleyball family, there is NO WAY to get all my thoughts down in four minutes, so I will just have to let you know, my full speech will be in my blog…
Terry Pettit at a session this week asked what would your obituary say without mentioning wins, losses and championships – noting that such an obit would be your purpose. You may have noticed that my record is not in my program bio – so I will let you know that mine is currently 10,522 and 31. You see, my record is based on the number of kids who I have coached who keep playing, and those who stop playing volleyball after I have coached them. My purpose is to develop amazing leaders, on and off the court, and give them a love of the game of volleyball at the same time
My grandfather won the French Medal of honor for his work eradicating elephantiasis in the South Pacific. My dad served in World War II as a navy captain and lived his life helping others get rid of their pain, while my mom was a first grade teacher for almost 40 years. My oldest friend, since kindergarten is here, Scott Graves, who is a cancer researcher par excellence. My best friend from college is here, Ruthie Musgrave, who directs a program that saves wildlife everywhere. My dear Cuban friend Lily Richardson is here, who now helps empower Wounded Warrior families, while supporting an orphanage in Haiti. These family members do much more important things than I do, and they inspire me.
Thanks to them and many of you here, I have been lucky enough to help grow our lifetime sport in over 50 different countries and all 50 states of America. I also have flown over a million miles in a metal tube strapped to a seat at 39,000 feet…I can only give my thanks to all of you here, while I must give special thanks to my other heroes and mentors….and of those still alive, I hope you spend time talking with them whenever you can cross their paths….
Mike Hulett – 4 time Paralympic coach, old across the net opponent, and quad amputee who made sure his prosthetics made him taller than me. He loses his arms and legs to diabetes, and then has the power to work full time at Walgreens corporate, while coaching four Paralympic ParaVolley teams, including a bronze and silver with the women in 2004 and 2008. I am so glad my kids got to grow up in gyms watching him.
Kirk Kilgour – my role model as a lefty, his dad and my dad were frat bros after the war, and after Kirk’s paralyzing injury in Italy, a hero who taught me that while he might not be able to do everything as a quadriplegic, he still could do a million things. I am so glad my kids got to meet him.
Carl McGown – Already inducted, he has mentored so many of us for so many decades. Our sport is so blessed to have him in it.
Lang Ping, my sister, who taught me how to consume a 25 pound bag of rice in a month, how to have grace and humility while being insanely famous, and who taught me how winning and losing is temporary but friendships last forever – so that she may have helped thump us in 1984, but she coached our USA women to a silver medal in her own nation in 2008, beating her home nation along the way. Now she is coaching the Chinese women’s team again.
Matt McShane, Fred Sturm and Rich Feller and all those on my all world lefthander team.
Becky Howard, Lea Wagner, Margie Mara and Fran Zelinkoff – USAV regional leaders who saw something in me when I was a young coach that I did not see in myself.
Doug Beal – The best boss anyone could ask for. The best teachers are those who show you where to look but not what to see. That is the gift Doug has given to me.
Sally Kus – who only won nearly 300 HS matches in a row, but who showed me how to get kids started loving the game.
Jim Coleman, for showing us how to grow the game for your entire life.
Brian Swenty and every other service member or dependent who protect our nation both here and abroad, while working so hard to make the game possible for USA kids overseas.
Jon Stanley as my coach with the Denver Comets pro team for inspiring me by beating Russia in 1968 and now John Speraw for leading a new generation of men toward international success.
Karch and Hugh, for really bringing motor learning principles and reading to the women’s game. Nice that we only have to say one name and we all know who they are…
Gary Moy, Marv Dunphy and all at Pepperdine over the years who give back to our sport in countless ways.
Ali Lamberson, Patchi, Jon Aharoni and Veronica and all who at USA Beach who helped grow an idea I pushed for 10 years too early, called college beach volleyball, while this year moving the sport forward despite the loss of the amazing Dave Williams.
Dale Hoffman for helping me start USA Junior Olympic Beach Volleyball back in 1991, and Randy Sapozniak and Lori Okimura for helping with kid’s volleyball and so much more.
Gary Colberg, fighting hard right now in a hospital, for starting Junior Olympic Volleyball in the 1970s, and then doing the same for the men, and now women, playing club vball in the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation.
Byron Shewman, who singlehandly keeps our disadvantage kids programming going with Starlings, while also keeping a school in Haiti funded.
Pete Wung, Eric Hodgson, Peter Vint, Michelle Goodall and all on my grassroots commission who collaborate on new ideas to help grow the game while Helgi at the FIVB office and Denis, Wayne and Phil do the same globally for our work together in World ParaVolley.
Laurel Brassey Iverson – the only woman to play NCAA DI men’s volleyball and a pioneer in so many other ways beyond her two Olympics.
Terry Pettit, whose Nebraska team in the late 1970s slept on my apartment floor when I was coaching CU in Boulder in the old days. Now we just fly fish and discuss the spirits in our sport.
Debbie Hunter, Sue Gozansky, Cecile Reynaud, Diana Cole, Bill Neville and so many others who help make a difference in coaching by giving back to the game in the CAP program – and helped me coin the term Exhaustipated. Yes, sometimes I get too tired to give a poop….
Stew McDole – My first true mentor, who is not just a great professor, coach, father and preacher, he kind of guy who puts mortgages on his own home to keep our volleyball camps going for kids.
And last but not least, the rest of my family – Tammie my partner who helps keep me in line and my kids. Yeah they play volleyball. Yeah, Cody he is here, and can touch 11’11” but both he and his remarkable sister McKenzie played 10 other sports while young, and as a single dad raising them alone since the 1996 Olympics ended. Since then I have had a quote by Hodding Carter on my kitchen wall which reads “Your job with children is to give them roots, and wings.” My kids helped me become a far better teacher, parent, and coach, by being the best they could be – in so many ways they still amaze me.
Thank you AVCA staff, board and every member here for this honor. I am only getting it because of all of you doing your jobs in the Olympic way of Citius, Altius, Fortius – May I challenge you, as I challenge myself each time I coach – to measure yourself by NEVER BEING AN ATHLETE’S LAST COACH, regardless of the age you are currently teaching. Happy holidays all.