Former Sitting Teams Coach Mike Hulett Passes Away

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | May 09, 2019, 6:03 p.m. (ET)

Mike Hulett coaching the U.S. Women's National Sitting Volleyball Team in 2008
Mike Hulett coaching the U.S. Women's National Sitting Volleyball Team in 2008

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 9, 2019) – USA Volleyball is sad to pass on the news that Mike Hulett, who served several years as the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Sitting Volleyball Team head coach, passed away on Thursday.

Mike HulettHulett’s players did not have to look far for motivation as he himself was a quadruple amputee confined to a wheelchair. At age 13, he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, but it did not keep him down. And it was that attitude that carried him to the highest levels of the sport.

“Mike was an inspiration to all our athletes and leaders within the sport of volleyball,” USA Volleyball CEO Jamie Davis said. “He touched so many lives through his coaching and leadership within the Great Lakes Region. We will miss his contributions to the sport.”

Hulett began his Paralympic coaching career as head coach of the U.S. Men’s Sitting Volleyball Team in the mid-1990s. He served as the team’s head coach at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics and the 2000 Sydney Paralympics.

In 2003, Hulett helped form the U.S. Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team. After some early struggles in international competition, he developed his players into a team of medal winners. He guided the squad to the bronze medal at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, which led to him being selected the 2004 U.S. Olympic Committee Paralympic Coach of the Year.

From that point on, the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team has proven to be a world power through increased recruiting, international competition and the framework laid out by Hulett. He led the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team to the 2008 Paralympic Games title match in Beijing.

Around his coaching, Hulett served on the Great Lakes Region Board of Directors. He represented the Great Lakes Region for junior boys volleyball at USA Volleyball meetings. Hulett was presented the Junior Volleyball Outstanding Clinician award in 1997. In 2001, USA Volleyball honored him with its George J. Fisher Leader in Volleyball award.

Hulett owned and operated his own junior volleyball club named Adversity VBC, a club he founded in 1997 which included an eight-court volleyball facility in Chicago’s northern suburbs.

Adversity is the perfect name for his club as it tells his life story in a nutshell. Hulett endured so much in his own life and still continued to be a mentor, leader and example to all of overcoming adversity. Through it all, it is said Hulett cried just once: when he realized that he would never play volleyball again. He is quoted as saying “I didn’t want to waste my energy on something I couldn’t control. I had a choice. I could hide or I could move on. I got over my situation pretty fast.”

Hulett was selected as USA Volleyball’s 2012 Harold T. Friermood “Frier” Award recipient for lifetime achievement. The Frier Award is the highest honor USA Volleyball can bestow on an individual.

A memorial service will be held May 14 at 7:30 p.m. CT at Adversity Volleyball Club (710 Corporate Woods Parkway, Vernon Hills, IL 60061) after the viewing at 4 p.m. CT.