Thursday, 23 May 2024

A Tribute to Carl McGown: A Volleyball Coaching Legend

Carl McGown, a renowned figure in the world of volleyball coaching, is being remembered with great admiration and respect. McGown, who passed away on December 30, 2019, at the age of 79, left an indelible mark on the sport as the former U.S. Men’s National Team and Brigham Young University volleyball coach.

A Legacy of Coaching Excellence

McGown’s coaching career spanned more than three decades, during which he served as a coach, leader, and mentor within the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team program. He was associated with more Olympic Games volleyball coaching staffs than anyone else in the world, showcasing his invaluable experience and expertise.

Guiding a Generation of Players

McGown’s journey began as an assistant coach for the U.S. Men at the 1970 FIVB World Championship. He later became the head coach and led the team for the 1973-76 quadrennial, including the 1974 FIVB World Championship. Throughout the next two decades, McGown continued to contribute to the U.S. coaching ranks in various roles, establishing himself as an influential figure in the team’s success.

In 1982, McGown returned to the National Team as a technical advisor, marking the beginning of a period of unparalleled international achievement for Team USA. Under his guidance, the U.S. Men’s team clinched their first Olympic Games gold medal in 1984. McGown remained an integral part of the coaching staff, serving as a technical advisor, scout, or coach for another six Olympic Games, including notable gold medal victories in 1988 and 2008.

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A Leader On and Off the Court

In addition to his accomplishments with the National Team, McGown also made significant contributions as the head coach of the Brigham Young University men’s volleyball team. He led the team to three national club championships before transitioning to an NCAA varsity sport in 1990. McGown’s coaching prowess allowed BYU to achieve remarkable success, with the program winning NCAA Men’s Volleyball National Championships in 1999 and 2001.

A Lasting Legacy

McGown’s impact extended beyond his coaching career. Many players he mentored went on to become successful coaches themselves, gaining recognition in the Olympic Games. His influence and contributions to the sport led to his induction into the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011, and he was honored with the James E. Coleman National Team Award by USA Volleyball in 2014.

Words of Appreciation

Carl McGown was highly regarded by his peers and players alike. Here are some reflections from those who knew him:

  • Hugh McCutcheon, U.S. Olympic coach for men’s volleyball in 2008 and women’s volleyball in 2012, described McGown as “a wonderful volleyball coach.”
  • Doug Beal, former USA Volleyball CEO and three-time U.S. Olympic Head Coach, referred to McGown as “one of the giants of our sport.”
  • Marv Dunphy, head coach of the 1988 U.S. Olympic Men’s Team and the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team, praised McGown’s scientific approach to coaching.
  • Karch Kiraly, U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach, recognized McGown as a legendary teacher of the game.
  • John Kessel, USA Volleyball Director of Sport Development, highlighted McGown’s influential coaching style and dedication to the sport.
  • Mike Wall, U.S. Men’s Assistant Coach, expressed his gratitude for McGown’s guidance and support throughout his career.
  • Reid Priddy, four-time U.S. Olympian and 2008 gold medalist, shared McGown’s message about embracing discomfort and making it the new comfortable.
  • John Speraw, U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach, offered condolences and acknowledged McGown’s significant impact on the sport.
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Q: What were Carl McGown’s coaching achievements?

A: Carl McGown had an illustrious coaching career, which included leading the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team to their first Olympic Games gold medal in 1984. He was associated with the team in various coaching roles for six Olympic Games, securing gold medals in 1988 and 2008. Additionally, McGown guided the Brigham Young University men’s volleyball team to national club championships and NCAA Men’s Volleyball National Championships.

Q: What was Carl McGown’s coaching philosophy?

A: Carl McGown was known for his scientific and detail-oriented approach to coaching. He emphasized the importance of fundamental skills, effective practice methods, and continuous improvement. McGown’s ability to adapt to the evolving game of volleyball and his dedication to maximizing player development made him a highly regarded and influential coach.

Q: What honors and recognition did Carl McGown receive?

A: Carl McGown’s contributions to the sport of volleyball were recognized through several prestigious accolades. In 2011, he was inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. USA Volleyball also honored him with the James E. Coleman National Team Award in 2014, further acknowledging his exceptional coaching career and impact on the sport.


Carl McGown, a legendary figure in volleyball coaching, is being remembered for his immense contributions to the sport. As a coach for the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team and the Brigham Young University men’s volleyball team, McGown left an indelible mark on the sport, leading his teams to numerous victories and championships. His coaching philosophy, attention to detail, and scientific approach set him apart as a true innovator in the sport. McGown’s legacy will continue to inspire and shape the future of volleyball.

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