Dec. 13, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford head women's volleyball coach John Dunning will be inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Hall of Fame this Thursday, Dec. 15 in San Antonio, Texas. Dunning will be joined by Liz Masakayan and Gerald `Gerry' Matacotta as the three inductees this year. The ceremony will be held in conjunction with the 2011 AVCA Annual Convention and NCAA Final Four.
GoStanford.com caught up with the coach to reflect on his career.
GoStanford: What are your thoughts on being inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame?
JD: It's an honor. It means you have been coaching a long time, but it has given me a chance to reflect on my career which I am usually too busy to do. It makes you think about all of the wonderful people you've crossed paths with - administrators, coaches, student-athletes. So it's an honor and has been neat to reflect on everything.
GoStanford: What are some of your most memorable coaching moments?
JD: I had been a high school coach when I was hired at Pacific and I can remember my first day at the arena at UOP. I was just standing there thinking out amazing it was to be there. Those initial moments just stick because I had just been teaching an Algebra II class at Fremont High School and then in the next moment I was the head coach of one of the best programs in the country. Winning a national championship there in my first season with an amazing group of kids was special. There are a lot of memories. I still remember coming to Stanford and thinking, `Wow, this place is really cool and I'm working here.' It was similar to the feelings I had on my first day at UOP, so I got to experience that twice. And then, winning a national championship in my first year again. How do you not shake your head and go `Really?'
GoStanford: Have you ever thought about what your life would be like had you not taken that first coaching job at Fremont High School?
JD: No, because I can't picture it. I had never even seen volleyball before, so walking into a gym to coach a group of high school kids I know I was terrified the first day. It was a good thing I was a teacher already and knew how to do things with groups and I had a little experience coaching basketball. But, back then, even the freshmen knew more than I did and that kind of scares me now. I've always just taken life as it has come to me and I've been really lucky with the opportunities that I've had and I have no complaints.
You have been at Stanford now for 11 seasons, what is it about this place that is special?
In terms of what it is I enjoy, I think when you find yourself with people who are great you are able to enjoy yourself more. Whether that's been at Stanford or UOP, I've had that. At Stanford, I've had a chance to sit and talk with amazing coaches, work with some of the most respected administrators in the country and work daily with student-athletes who are amazingly qualified and motivated. It comes down to the people. A place is just a place, but the people at the place help make it what it is.
GoStanford: What is the most rewarding part about coaching to you?
JD: I spend a lot of time in the office and on the road, but those moments are part of the job and things that I do. It is great to have conversations with the people I work with. I sat and talked to [head Stanford baseball coach] Mark Marquess for an hour about different things that had to do with coaching. But, ultimately, the times that I look forward to the most are the times I spend in the gym. Working one-on-one with an athlete doing individuals and the times I get to watch them work so hard in the weight room is rewarding. Also, when we are in practice or in a match and we are discussing the things that have to do with the game of volleyball. Getting to be with the athletes in a group setting, it doesn't get much better than that.
A look back on the coaching career of John Dunning
Dunning has been in the spotlight of NCAA volleyball since he began his coaching career 26 years ago at University of the Pacific. Since then, he has collected four national titles, tying former Cardinal coach Don Shaw for the second-most in NCAA history, and coached in more Division I national title matches (9) than any other coach. Dunning has taken every team he has coached to the NCAA Tournament and led a remarkable 88 percent of them to a round-of-16 appearance. He ranks among the top-five coaches all-time with a .825 career winning percentage, and among the top-10 active coaches with 748 career wins. Dunning boasts a 748-159 career record to date, and he has had 29 athletes earn 58 AVCA All-America honors, while mentoring four AVCA National Players of the Year.
Prior to beginning his career at the collegiate level, Dunning made a name for himself as one of the nation's top prep and junior club coaches. He was the founder of the Bay Club and also spent nine successful years as the head coach at Fremont High School. His teams at Fremont were among the top-five in the state each of his last six years, also capturing eight league titles, six sectional crowns and one state championship. His impressive 283-32 (.898) high school record makes him one of the most successful prep coaches in California history. After founding the Bay Club, he built it into one of the country's most successful and well-managed junior programs in just four years, with his team capturing a national championship in 1984. With his accomplishments in club, high school and collegiate volleyball, Dunning is one of only two coaches to have captured national titles on three different levels.
Dunning has also spent time coaching at the national level. He was selected to coach the north squad at the 1995 U.S. Olympic Festival and led the team to a gold medal. From 1993 to 1994, he served as President of the AVCA He served the two previous years as the NCAA Division I representative to the AVCA Board of Directors, and has been a member of the AVCA Division I All-America Selection Committee many times. Dunning also served as interim athletic director at Pacific in 1999-2000.
Dunning earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics and economics from San Diego State in 1973. He and his wife Julie have two daughters, Lauren and Lisa, and two grandchildren, McKenzie and Cole.
The induction of the three honorees in 2011 will bring the total number of AVCA Hall of Fame honorees to 55 in its nine years of existence. For more information on the AVCA Hall of Fame, visit the AVCA Web site, www.avca.org.