Carl McGown: Volleyball Legend


By now most of the volleyball world has heard of the passing of Dr. Carl McGown. This short article, reworked from his staff bio at BYU, pays tribute to the man and the legend.

Success was a constant throughout the career of Carl McGown. Dr. McGown left his mark on schools, programs, and people everywhere, from the Church College of Hawaii to the USA men’s national team. He graduated with an Associate degree from Long Beach City College in 1961, a BS degree in physical education from BYU in 1963, and a Master’s degree, also from BYU, in 1964. Following his classwork at BYU, he went to the University of Oregon where he earned his Ph.D. in 1971. Over the last 40 years he has been a part of 11 National Championship volleyball teams and four Gold Medal volleyball teams. He was an educator, a coach, a volleyball “guru”, a mentor, a husband and a father.

For nearly 50 years, Dr. McGown coached a number of successful and storied programs. He started at the Church College of Hawaii, guiding them to a second-place finish in the USVBA Collegiate Championships in his last year. Shortly after finishing his coaching experience in Hawaii, he was named an assistant coach of the USA National team, and his first international experience came during the 1970 world games in Bulgaria. In 1973, Dr. Carl McGown was named the head coach of the USA national team and led them from 1973-1976.

For the next 20 years of his life, Dr. McGown was in and out of the coaching ranks of the USA national team. From 1982 to 2008 he was part of four gold medal teams, three of which occurred during the Olympics. During this time, he returned to BYU and led the team for 13 years, winning several awards including the MPSF Coach of the Year twice, AVCA National Coach of the Year twice, and two NCAA National Championships, in 1999 and 2001. Coaching never seemed to leave Dr. McGown, as he went back to the USA national team again in 2004 and 2008, helping the team win the Olympic Gold Medal in the Beijing Olympics. Because of his experience and success as a coach, Dr. McGown was inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Hall of Fame in 2010 and the BYU Hall of Fame in 2011.

Because of his extensive volleyball knowledge and motor skills experience, Dr. McGown was published in a number of scholarly journals, including the Journal of Motor Behavior, the National Strength and Conditioning Journal, and The Physician and Sportsmedicine. He also published several books, including two classic coaching tomes, Coaching Volleyball: Building a Winning Team (with Hilda Fronske and Launa Moser) and The Science of Coaching Volleyball. Both of these books belong on the shelf of any serious volleyball coach.

The sport of volleyball has lost one of its great minds, champions, and advocates, as well as a genuinely good man. You simply cannot replace an individual like Carl McGown; others will grow up around the legacy he leaves behind, and the sport will grow because of men like him.



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