After more than a month of limbo and silence, the UCLA men’s volleyball coaching search has ended. On Tuesday, the athletic department hired UC Irvine’s coach John Speraw.
Replacing former UCLA coach Al Scates, who coached the team to 19 NCAA championships in 50 years, is a formidable task for anyone, but the opportunity to return to his alma mater was enough to woo Speraw.
Speraw led UC Irvine to an NCAA Championship this past season, the Anteaters’ third in the last six years. In his 10-year tenure at Irvine, Speraw turned the once average volleyball program into a national powerhouse.
“He’s a very good recruiter. “¦ He’s always had a good staff of recruiters, and he’s very good himself. He’s good at judging talent, and then he’s good at coaching the talent,” said Scates on how Speraw has achieved success as a coach.
Speraw’s success started well before his run at UC Irvine. As a volleyball player at UCLA from 1992 to 1995, he helped his team win two national championships.
Although his collegiate volleyball career ended in 1995, his passion for the game never did.
Speraw immediately turned to coaching, as he became an assistant coach for Scates straight out of college. He was part of two more national championships as an assistant.
Speraw is the only individual to win a national championship as a coach, an assistant coach and a player. The 40-year-old coach will also be an assistant for the U.S. Olympic team in the upcoming London Games.
With Speraw’s impressive resume and recruiting abilities returning to Westwood, the team is excited and ready to start a new era of UCLA men’s volleyball.
“It was really exciting. “¦ When he came into the room and everybody starting applauding, “¦ it was a lot of energy down there,” said rising junior outside hitter Gonzalo Quiroga on the players’ first meeting with Speraw on Tuesday.
Speraw’s arrival, though, will bring about a complete change for UCLA volleyball.
There will be new practice times, more emphasis on practice and relationships between players and coaches and different style of coaching.
Given Speraw’s track record though, the players are willing to make these changes.
“We have the talent here, the work ethic, and the mindset to win,” said rising redshirt junior libero Evan Mottram. “He has the process, the blueprint on how to make a national championship (happen) really fast.”