Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Kessel’s Impact on USA Volleyball: A Legacy of Coaching and Inspiring

From left, USAV Board of Directors Chair Cecile Reynaud, John Kessel, and former USAV CEO Doug Beal

Colorado Springs, Colo. (Aug. 18, 2020) – Mention the name “USA Volleyball” to those in the sport, and one name consistently comes up: John Kessel. With his 35 years of dedication to the organization, Kessel has left an indelible mark on the world of volleyball.

As the author of USA Volleyball’s training manual for coaches and the director of sport development, Kessel has worked tirelessly to make the sport more accessible to people across the country. Reflecting on his career, Kessel expresses no regrets. His joy comes from igniting a love for volleyball in young children, who go on to not only play but also give back to the sport by coaching.

Kessel’s expertise extends beyond his coaching experience. His blog series on the USA Volleyball website offers invaluable insights for coaches, with titles such as “Volleyball Should Be a Game Before It Becomes a Sport” and “Never Be a Child’s Last Coach.” These articles embody Kessel’s philosophy of fostering a love for the game while imparting knowledge.

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But Kessel’s journey in volleyball started long before his involvement with USA Volleyball. As a young boy, he tagged along with his father, who played beach volleyball in Emerald Bay, Calif. Later, he played doubles volleyball at Colorado College and the University of Colorado.

Kessel’s impact on the volleyball community extends far beyond his coaching and work with USA Volleyball. He has crossed paths with and learned from numerous top coaches in the sport. His connections have even led him to mentor and guide future coaches, like Hugh McCutcheon, who went on to achieve Olympic gold and silver as a coach for the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams, respectively.

In addition to his contributions to the sport, Kessel has also been involved in the development of Paralympic volleyball. Inspired by his friendship with Mike Hulett, a volleyball player who lost his arms and legs due to type I diabetes, Kessel helped establish sitting volleyball programs and coached the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Sitting Teams in the Paralympic Games.

Even in retirement, Kessel continues to share his expertise and passion for volleyball. Through virtual coaching clinics and his blog, he remains committed to empowering coaches and players worldwide. His legacy and impact on the sport are undeniable.


Q: What is John Kessel’s role in USA Volleyball?
A: John Kessel has played a significant role in USA Volleyball, serving as the director of sport development and authoring the organization’s training manual for coaches. He has dedicated 35 years to the growth and accessibility of the sport.

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Q: What is John Kessel’s coaching philosophy?
A: John Kessel believes that volleyball should be approached as a game before it becomes a sport. He emphasizes the importance of fostering a love for the game in young players and encourages coaches to prioritize their players’ development and enjoyment.

Q: How has John Kessel’s work impacted the volleyball community?
A: John Kessel’s contributions to the volleyball community extend beyond his coaching and work with USA Volleyball. He has mentored and guided future coaches, including Hugh McCutcheon, who achieved Olympic success as a coach for the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams.


John Kessel’s influence on USA Volleyball and the sport itself cannot be overstated. Throughout his 35 years of dedication, he has transformed coaching, inspired young players, and championed the accessibility of volleyball across the country. Kessel’s contributions as the author of USA Volleyball’s training manual have empowered coaches and helped shape the development of the sport. Through his blog series, he shares invaluable insights and philosophies that benefit coaches at every level. Kessel’s impact reaches far beyond the United States, as he has connected with and learned from top coaches around the world. He has also played a pivotal role in the development of Paralympic volleyball, bringing the sport to new heights of inclusivity. Even in retirement, Kessel continues to share his knowledge and passion for volleyball through virtual coaching clinics, leaving a lasting legacy for future generations. To learn more about John Kessel and his contributions to the sport, visit Alpinetgheep.

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