Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Olympics | Karch Kiraly named new head coach of USA women’s volleyball

Hall of Fame Olympian replaces Hugh McCutcheon; calls former Washington setter Courtney Thompson "a good example for a lot of athletes."
[updated at 3:26pm | September 11, 2012 with reaction from Jim McLaughlin]

Karch Kiraly was named today as the new head coach of the USA women’s volleyball team.
USA women's head coach Karch Kiraly
-courtesy USA Volleyball

Kiraly, 51, steps up from his assistant coach position to replace Hugh McCutcheon. McCutcheon, who led the USA women’s team to a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games (and the USA men’s team to a gold at the 2008 Beijing Games) is now the head coach at the University of Minnesota.

As a player, the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) named Kiraly as the greatest men’s volleyball player of the sport’s first century. He won national championships at UCLA, indoor Olympic gold medals in 1984 (Los Angeles), and 1988 (Seoul) and, with partner Kent Steffes, he won the inaugural beach Olympic gold medal in 1996 (Atlanta). As a professional, Kiraly’s indoor teams won titles in the Italian League; on the sand, he and partners won 148 beach tournaments.

Two former Washington athletes were members of the USA team in London: setter Courtney Thompson and libero Tama Miyashiro. Both recently told Volleyblog Seattle of their high regard for Kiraly, and both expressed strong interest in remaining on the USA National Team roster. Thompson, in particular, was coached directly by Kiraly during the 2012 World Grand Prix and the London Olympics.

“Courtney did a tremendous job for this program,” Kiraly said today. “She suffered her share of disappointments, but she stuck with it. And she’s a good example for a lot of athletes at a lot of age levels as to how to work through adversity and how to keep a goal ahead of you and keep your focus long-term in case you suffer short-term disappointments.

“She ended up playing a great role for us at the Olympics. She is one of the setters that’s going to carry the work forward. She worked hard to earn that spot.”

Kiraly is also a longtime friend of Washington coach Jim McLaughlin. McLaughlin has been mentioned as a USA head coach candidate for the past three Olympic quadrennials. He cites his commitment to his young family and to his current position at Washington as reasons for declining to be considered.

"It's a good day for Karch, and a good day for USA Volleyball," said McLaughlin from Portland, where his team is preparing for a nonconference match tonight. "Nobody believes in USA Volleyball more than Karch Kiraly.

"I'm just really happy for him and happy for the USA program."

Karch Kiraly, Jack Hamann, Leslie Hamann, Stephanie Lathrop, Hugh McCutcheon
-courtesy Dave Weitl

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