A group of nominees from a new nation to the list

A contact in Czech volleyball circles suggested this quintet of coaches as being among the best from that nation.

Zdenek Pommer – more than 10 titles in pocket
Petr Brom – also many titles
Jan Svoboda – ex national team coach, currently in Jihostroj Ceske Budejovice

Miroslav Cada – 7 titles in row with Prostejov
Stanislav Mitac – great coach for young girls, coach of Olymp Praha

Two more interview commitments for the list

Here’s today’s pair of new Wizard interview commitments.

Sue Gozansky (USA)
A member of the 2006 AVCA Hall of Fame induction class, Sue travels the world as an FIVB coaching course instructor, as well as being a member of the USAV CAP Cadre and author of a pair of books. She made her name in coaching by leading the UC-Riverside program for nearly 40 years. During that span she won nearly 700 matches and two NCAA Division II titles and an AIAW Small College Championship. Her teams had an NCAA-record streak of 20 straight playoff appearances. She has coached at the Olympic Sports Festival as well as the USA Women’s “B” volleyball team consisting of players being considered for roster spots on the National Team and was men’s and women’s coach for the quadrennial Maccabiah Games (Jewish Olympics) in Israel in 1981, 1985, 1989 and 1993.

Stephen Pierce (USA)
As coach of Eden High School for 27 years, Stephen is the winningest coach in New York state history with over 900 victories. Under his stewardship, Eden has won 11 state titles. By comparison, the next highest championship count for any school is 6. His teams have ranked as high as #16 nationally. Stephen was named 2010 Prepvolleyball.com National Volleyball High School Co-Coach of the year. He has also coached extensively at the Juniors level and has trained numerous players who went on to play NCAA Division I and II volleyball.

Adding to the high school group

A trio of high school coaches have been recommended to us over the last couple of day.s

Issac Owens has coached the boys team at Esperanza high school for 13 years, leading the program to four CIF titles (2002, 2007, 2013 and 2014).The Aztecs were selected the national team of the year by Volleyball Magazine in 2007. They were also state team of the year. His overall record is 281-115. His teams have gone undefeated in the Century League for previous four seasons (48-0). Owens recently resigned from the boys’ team, but will continue to coach the girls.

Stephen Pierce has coached the Eden High School team for 27 years and recently became the winningest coach in New York history with over 900 victories and 11 state championships (also a state record). His team has been ranked as high as #16 nationally. He was the Prepvolleyball.com 2010 National Volleyball High School Co-Coach of the Year.

Eric Sullivan is currently the coach at Marquette University High School. He took over seven years ago and in that time has won the state championship 5 times. He has produced multiple All State awards averaging more than 1 every year (I count 10 not including 2010 because I cannot find it). Sully also had a string of successes as the North Shore (now just Milwaukee) 18s coach, finishing in gold multiple times in a row and sending many to college. It’s also worth noting that his Marquette team had Conrad Kaminski and Peter Hutz on the floor at last years national championship.


Two legendary coaches added to the list

Two coaches and nearly 80 years of coaching experienced are being added to our list of Volleyball Coaching Wizards committed interviewees. I doubt these gentleman need much introduction, but here’s a bit about them anyway. :-)

John Dunning (USA)
Inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame in 2011, John is one of only a handful of coaches who can claim to have won NCAA National Championships at two different schools. He got his first two at Pacific where he won over 400 matches in 16 seasons. His teams reached the NCAA tournament every year and won 5 conference titles, with John earning Coach of the Year honors four times. Since 2001 he has been at Stanford, where he’s picked up another two National Championships with four runner-up finishes, with eight conference titles. John’s now crossed the 800 career win mark. He’s coached 8 National Players of the Year and 73 All-Americans.

Al Scates (USA)
A 2004 AVCA Hall of Fame inductee, and a member of the USA Volleyball Hall of Fame as well, Al stands as the biggest name in USA men’s collegiate volleyball. His UCLA teams amassed 19 NCAA titles and over 1000 victories, plus 2 USVBA championships in the pre-NCAA era (his combined win total is north of 1200) over a 50 year coaching tenure which ended in 2012. They also grabbed 23 conference titles, and shared another. Al’s program produced 44 US National Team members, and 27 Olympians.

Starting the new week with more Hall of Famers

We start this week off with three more Hall of Fame coaches joining the list of those who have agreed to be interviewed for Volleyball Coaching Wizards – in one case, a multiple Hall of Fame inductee. We also have a highly respected (and decorated) Juniors coach and a member of the USA Volleyball national team staff who also happens to have coached for more than 25 years in the Big Ten.

Mick Haley (USA)
A 2006 AVCA Hall of Fame Inductee, Mick became the first coach of a non-West Coast team to win an NCAA Division I championship when he led Texas to the title in 1988. That wasn’t even his first national championship, though. Mick won a total of 6 junior college championships at Kellogg Community College between 1973 and 1979, amassing over 300 combined wins and earning himself a spot in the Junior College Coaches Hall of Fame. At Texas he won over 500 matches in 17 seasons during which the team won 13 conference titles and make 15 trips to the NCAA tournament. Mick coached the US Women during the 1997-2000 Olympic cycle, finishing 4th overall in Sydney. He has since been at the helm at the University of Southern California we he’s won 2 national championships and made six semifinals appearances, with well over 300 total wins to run his career tally north of 1000 in NCAA Division I alone.

Mike Lingenfelter (USA)
Co-Director of the Munciana club, Mike counts four national championships, four national runner-ups, and three third place finishes to his Juniors club coaching credit. At the high school level he also led Wapahani High School to two state championships and has been awarded state Coach of the Year three times.

Bill Neville (USA)
A member of the 2012 AVCA Hall of Fame class, Bill has been a fixture of the USA national team program for decades, and even coached the Canadian national team for a while. He was an assistant coach during the 1984 Olympics when the US won it’s first gold medal. Bill served as Technical Director for USA Volleyball for much of the 1980s and developed the Coaches Accreditation Program (CAP) during that time. He has also coached collegiately at Montana State and the University of Washington.

Jim Stone (USA)
A current member of the USA Volleyball coaching staff, Jim spent 26 seasons as head coach at Ohio State where he amassed over 500 victories. His teams won 3 Big Ten titles and made 15 trips to the NCAA tournament, reaching the semifinals twice. He earned AVCA Regional Coach of the Year and Big Ten Coach of the Year four times. His former players include two AVCA Players of the Year and 19 All-Americans. With the USA program, Jim has head coached the Youth National Team at the likes of the NORCECA Championships and World Championships over the last several years. He was also an assistant coach with the Senior Women’s National Team during the FIVB Grand Prix in 20012.

Tom Tait (USA)
A member of the inaugural 2003 AVCA Hall of Fame induction class, Tom is the founder of the Penn State volleyball program. He started with women’s club team in 1974, then started the men’s program in 1976 and coached them until 1989. His teams made 6 NCAA tournament appearances and were runner-up in 1982 to UCLA. Tom was the 1986 Volleyball Monthly National Coach of the Year, was five times the Eastern Collegiate Coach of the Year, and earned Coach Emeritus status from the EIVA in 1990. On the international stage, he head coached the U.S. Olympic Festival team and was the 1982 Junior National Team assistant for the Pacific Rim Championships, mentored the 1983 World University Games team, and assisted at the 1983 Pan American Games.

One of the luminary coaches added

Quiet day today as Mark is getting ready for the start of the German championship finals (best of 7 series) and John is buckling down on his PhD research. Time enough to report the most significant commitment to the list of Volleyball Coaching Wizards interviewees, though. You speak to a lot of coaches out there and they will cite him as something they consider a major influence on volleyball coaching.

We also get to add to the list an extremely accomplished coach most folks have never heard of, which is exactly part of what this project is about. That brings the committed tally up to 11 after only a couple of days of reaching out to nominees.

Carl McGown (USA)
A 2010 AVCA Hall of Fame inductee, Carl is widely considered one of the world’s best coaches and a key proponent of motor learning in volleyball. His coaching experience dates back to being assistant coach for the US team at the 1970 World Championships. He was head coach for the US men from 1973 to 1976 and technical advisor to the program in 1980. Since then, McGown has mentored teams in seven different Olympic Games and has also coached the National Team in seven different World Championships, including 1974, ’82, ’86, ’90, ’94, ’98 and ’02. Carl was the first coach in Brigham Young University men’s volleyball history and over 13 seasons he compiled a career record of 225-137, with two NCAA titles – twice garnering Tachikara/AVCA National Coach of the Year honors. Carl’s most recent head coaching experience was in the 2007-08 Swiss A League, where he led LUC to the regular season title, the Coppe Suisse Championship and the Swiss League Championship.

Ismo Peltoarvo (Sweden)
The nomination we got for Ismo suggested he could have been acknowledged as one of the world’s great coaches if he had ventured outside Sweden, where he has stayed for family reasons. He won his first championship in the 1983-84 season and has won more than 20 other domestic and international titles since, not to mention numerous runner-up finishes. He did two stints leading the Swedish women’s national team and one with the women’s Junior national team, coached several different men’s and women’s club teams, and even took a girls’ school team to 3rd place in the 1992 World School Championships.

The next round of commitments

Yesterday we had four initial Wizards commit to being interviewed for the project. Today we more than double the list with another groups of prominent and successful coaches to the list. We’ve got multiple Hall of Famers and all three levels of NCAA volleyball covered in this group, with some national team flavor as well.

Iradge Ahrabi-Fard (USA)
A member of the inagural AVCA Hall of Fame class of 2003, Iradge spent 19 seasons at the University of Northern Iowa, accumulating over 500 victories. His teams won 10 conference championships and eight league tournament titles, made eight NCAA Tournament berths and three National Invitation Tournament appearances – including a trip to the 1993 NIVC Final Four. Iradge was named the 1999 AVCA National Coach of the Year, after guiding UNI to a 30-1 record, a No. 15 national ranking and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. He was the inaugural AVCA Excellence in Education Award winner, was voted the AVCA District Coach of the Year in 1985 and 1999, and was the conference coach of the year six times.

Teri Clemens (USA)
A 2004 AVCA Hall of Fame inductee, Teri holds the NCAA Division III record for career winning %, having gone 529-77 over 14 seasons at Washington University in St. Louis from 1985 to 1998. Her teams won seven national championships, including six in a row between 1991 and 1996. Teri was named the Tachikara/AVCA Division III National Coach of the Year three times and her 1992 squad is the only NCAA Division III Tournament team to finish a full season with a perfect record (40-0). She wasn’t too bad as a high school coach either. Over six years at St. Louis’ Incarnate Word Academy her teams accumulated a 155-15 record with three Missouri State championships.

Dietre Collins-Parker (USA)
A 2008 AVCA Hall of Fame inductee, is perhaps best known as a player. Dietre won back-to-back NCAA Division I national championships at the University of Hawaii and was as 3-time All-American. She also won the Broderick Cup Award, signifying the nation’s top female collegiate athlete, becoming the first volleyball player to ever receive that distinction. She was a member of the 1988 USA Women’s Olympic squad. Dietre began her head coaching career with eight years at the University of Nevada Las Vegas earning Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 1998 after taking a dormant volleyball program and leading the Lady Rebels to a 23-8 record and a WAC tournament semifinal appearance. That was followed by five seasons at the helm of Cornell where she won or shared 3 Ivy League titles and made two trips to the NCAA tournament. Since 2009 she has been at San Diego State. In 2012 she led her Aztec squad to a 23-8 mark and a 13-3 ledger in the Mountain West as the Aztecs claimed their first-ever Mountain West title. Dietre is considered by many to be one of the great ambassadors of the sport.

Paulo Cunha (Portugal)
From 1987 to 2007 Paulo was a coaching education lecturer and course director for the Portuguese Volleyball Association and Portuguese Volleyball Federation. He coached his nation’s Junior National Team from 1986-1992. His club teams in Portugal’s 1st Division won 8 national titles, 7 Portuguese Cups, and 6 Super Cups. Paulo’s coached in 12 European Cups and in 1998 became the first Portuguese coach to reach a European cup final four. Three times he was awarded Coach of the Year by the Portuguese Association of Volleyball Coaches.

Peggy Martin (USA)
A 2009 AVCA Hall of Fame inductee, Peggy is one of only two NCAA coaches to accumulate more than 1200 victories and is the Division II leader in career wins. Most of those came at the University of Central Missouri where she had 33 consecutive winning seasons (as part of 39 total) and an overall record of 1064-281-8. Peggy’s teams won or shared 19 conference titles, reached the NCAA tournament 25 consecutive times, with six trips to the Elite 8. She has won 22 Coach of the Year awards. Peggy has been coaching the last several seasons in the NAIA at Spring Hill College continuing her impressive performance with an overall record of 168-43, with four straight undefeated conference seasons.

Tapping into the Junior College ranks

Had a nice list of junior college coaches to add to the nominations list.

One group missing would be community college coaches. They do a lot of recruiting, have to do a ton of development…along with extras other college coaches don’t.


  • Bill Burnside, John Logan College –teaches better 0-tempo attacks than any other juco coach
  • Sue Sinclair, Illinois Central –has a national title, AVCA coach of the year a couple times
  • Jim Dietz, Lincoln Land –has coached USA HP, along with high school. Is also a club director
  • Kelly Daniels, Mav Jrs. –took Longview College to nationals–also officiates and does club
  • Rick Reynolds, Western Wyoming –has limited scholarships and a crappy geographic location…still wins regularly
  • Bob Vilsoet, Harper College –D3 juco so has no scholarships…totally different philosophy than jucos with scholarships. Same could be done with Brookhaven (TX)’s coach whose name escapes me at the moment.
  • Jennifer Ei, Johnson County (Kansas)
  • Rick Younger, Butler CC (Kansas) –he’s a baseball guy who made the transition to volleyball, so he has a different perspective on things.

Figured I’d pass on those names…juco coaches are usually ignored because people in volleyball don’t see them like in other sports.

The initial group of confirmed interviewees

We are starting to lock in our Volleyball Coaching Wizards nominees for interviews. Requests have begun to go out, with positive responses already coming back from some of those we’ve contacted so far. Here’s the beginnings of the list.

Iradge Ahrabi-Fard
A member of the original AVCA Hall of Fame induction class in 2003, Iradge coached for 19 years at the University of Northern Iowa. During that time he compiled a record of 503-142 (.780) and recorded at least 20 victories in 17 of 19 years. After guiding the Panthers to a 31-1 record in 1999, and eventually reaching the NCAA Division I Tournament Sweet 16, he was named the AVCA National Coach of the Year and received the inaugural AVCA Excellence in Education Award. In 1997, he took a leave of absence to serve as a consultant for USA Volleyball and the development of its teams.

Mark Lebedew (Australia)
Yes, he’s one of the principles on the project. He has also, however, been nominated for inclusion by multiple coaches outside the project. One notably said, “…there are 3 coaches I’ve never met who I feel I’ve learned more from than any coach I HAVE met. Mark is one of them.” Mark’s coaching bio is listed here.

Jenny McDowell (USA)
As head coach at Emory University (NCAA Division III) since 1996, Jenny has amassed over 600 wins and her players have earned over 40 All-American selections, including two National Player of the Year awards. Her teams have reached the NCAA tournament 18 years in a row, making the round of 16 on 15 occasions, with four trips to the Final Four resulting in a national championship and a runner-up.

Tom Turco (USA)
As head coach of Barnstable High School for 27 seasons, Tom has won 16 Massachusetts Division 1 state titles. From 2003 to 2007 his teams won a record 110 consecutive matches. Since 1995, Barnstable has had 10 undefeated seasons and amassed a 455-18 overall record. Tom’s players have included 4 Prepvolleyball.com All Americans, 1 AVCA All American, and 7 Massachusetts Gatorade Players of the Year. He was selected as 2008 AVCA National Coach of the Year and the 2012 NHSCA National Volleyball Coach of the Year.

Simon Loftus (Scotland)
As the head coach and director of volleyball at Leeds Met University, Simon was at the core of the dominant UK university program. From 2007 to 2012 his men’s and women’s teams combined for six BUCS (the UK equivalent to the NCAA) national championships and five Volleyball England Student Cup titles. His women’s team had a three year undefeated run during that span. Overlapping with his time at Leeds Met, Simon was also the head coach of the Scottish Men’s National Team, leading them to the 2012 Novotel Cup which was the nation’s first-ever international championship.

A mixed bunch of nominees

We had a group of nominees all come in one bunch. They cover collegiate, club, and high school levels. They also include coaches for both genders. The bolded names are repeat nominations.

D3 – Becky Schmidt – Hope College
D3 – Amber Warners – Calvin College
D3 – Jenny McDowell – Emory University
D3 – Johan Dulfer – Clarkson University
D3 men – Charlie Sullivan – Springfield College
D3 men – LJ Marx – Carthage College
D3 men/Boys Club – Cal Wickens – Nazareth College/Pace Bootlegger Volleyball Club
D2 – Brad Starkey – Concordia
HS – Tom Turco – Barnstable High School Ma
HS – Gary Bynon – Burnt Hills High School NY
HS – Maria Nolan – Immaculate Heart Academy NJ
HS – Al Bennett – Austin Westlake Tx
HS/Club – CJ Denk – Our Lady of Mercy/Paradigm VBC
Club – Rob Workmeister – Volley FX
Club – Missy McLinden – Synergy Volleyball Club
Club – Bob Westbrook – A5 Volleyball Club