I’ve mentioned before a breakfast conversation I was part of with John Kessel of USA Volleyball and some of the other participants of the 2015 High Performance Coaches Clinic. In it he gave Hugh McCutcheon and Karch Kiraly credit for spreading the gospel of “the game teaches the game” through at least the US volleyball coaching community, if not worldwide. If you’ve paid any attention at all to the volleyball community since he took over the USA women’s team you can’t help to have notice that Karch is everywhere. He will seeming go just about anywhere and speak with anyone about volleyball. Karch presented at the HP Clinic. Alan at VolleyMetrics also talks about a session he did in March of 2015.

Obviously, Karch has a massive profile in the volleyball community thanks to his fantastic playing career. Taking over the US National Team put him back into the spotlight once more. Even more since leading the women to their first gold medal in a major international competition (2014 World Championships). As such, he’s in prime position to evangelize our sport and his coaching philosophy. I can tell you, it’s something that gets a lot of global attention.

You don’t need Karch’s level of notoriety to be a driving force in the volleyball community, though. In 2001 I helped found a Juniors club in my home state, Rhode Island, and ran it for several years. I definitely didn’t have a profile of any note at the time (it’s still running as Blast Volleyball). I played one year in high school (boys volleyball started my senior year) and on the club team in college. Up to then I’d only coached a couple years of juniors and a couple seasons as a college assistant. In other words, I wasn’t, profile-wise, someone people were naturally going to look to for this sort of thing. Still, I was part of a major change in the RI volleyball structure and culture.

It behooves all of us who love the sport to try to take on leadership roles in as broad a community as we can impact. The higher your profile, the more influence you can have, to be sure. As in my case, though, even if you don’t have that profile (yet) you can still get some important, impactful things accomplished.

So look around. What can you do and/or who can you influence to help the growth and development of volleyball in your world?

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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.

    2 replies to "Volleyball coach as evangelist"

    • Jim

      The Jesuits taught me to always ask “Why?”

      In this case, beyond our passion for the sport, why is it important to grow the game? Particularly for girls and women? Do we have a lot of young athletes with no opportunities to play competitive team sports? Or are we in a zero sum game putting our kids in a tug of war? We still have under-served communities for Boys and Inner Cities for sure. Beyond that? I come across the center of the universe programs for Lacrosse, Soccer, Baseball, etc. that are equally passionate about growing their games. Is Market Share a critical issue like it is for some manufacturing industries?

      I am guilty of promoting year-round play as a competitive necessity. But I wonder if the majority of kids, who are not College or Olympic candidates, would be better served with time for multiple sports and other joys of being kids!

      • John Forman

        I agree with your point related to excessive focus on one sport for individual athletes. As John Kessel points out regularly, the evidence supports multi-sport involvement for long-term development.

        The point of this post, though, is in promoting and developing the sport. Part of that is increasing participation in under-served and/or lesser developed areas. For me, though, the bigger part is increasing the profile of volleyball in terms of visibility – stuff that relates to attendance, viewership, etc.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.