I think a combination of history and business lessons is the best way to describe From the Ashes:The Rise of the University of Washington Volleyball Program, by Frank Zaccari. Basically, it’s the story of the UW team from just before Jim McLaughlin took over up until 2010 (though there’s a reference at the end to the Final 4 in Seattle in 2013). That’s the end of Bill Neville’s tenure, when the program was struggling, through multiple Final 4s and a national championship.

The author is a business turnaround expert. He took charge of the volleyball program’s booster club at the start of McLaughlin’s tenure. This is despite not having any real prior connection to the university. I think his path there is interesting.

Anyway, the chapters of the book are framed in the context of “Turn-Around Rules”. Each chapter encompasses a certain rule. That said, they are pretty chronological as well. So what you end up with is the explanation of the application of a given rule via the story of a given season or period.

I have a business background and enjoy volleyball history, so I found the book and interesting read – though it’s quite short at only 2 hours or so. It’s definitely not a coaching book. Don’t look for many insights from McLaughlin from that point of view. For college and university coaches, however, there’s a good amount of useful material that relates to your work. I can see its usefulness for high school coaches and club directors as well.

By the way, if you’re interested in the more business/management side of things. check out Stop Competing and Start Winning.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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