Karch at 60
ANAHEIM, United States, November 3, 2020 - For some, turning 60
means a big celebration with family and friends, but for the
legendary Karch Kiraly today’s birthday schedule features
working during the day and a family dinner in the evening.
“No major party or celebration, just a typical weekday in
Anaheim working with USA Women, and a family dinner in the
evening,” said Kiraly, who has served as head coach of the
national volleyball team since September 2012.
“In the evening, my wife Janna, our two sons Kristian and Kory,
and I will probably go out to one of our favourite restaurants,”
said Kiraly. “This past weekend we were in Santa Barbara,
celebrating my mom Toni’s birthday.”
In his seven years as American national coach, Kiraly has guided
the women’s programme to a 222-47 record (82.5 winning percent)
highlighted by the country’s first-ever FIVB Volleyball World
Championship gold medal in 2014 followed by the 2015 FIVB
Volleyball World Grand Prix title, a bronze medal at the Rio
2016 Olympics and back-to-back FIVB Volleyball Nations League
titles in 2018 and 2019.
“Watching our indoor women winning their first-ever major
championship, the 2014 World Championship, was really special,”
said Kiraly, who played on the only American men’s team in 1986
to win the world title. “We’re always hungry for more of that!”
With the 2020 season scrubbed due to the pandemic, Kiraly said
the “biggest change is how to adjust to radically reduced
amounts of live, in-person human to human interaction, and how
to stay connected with people: both family and friends, and also
teammates and work colleagues. We’re all in that challenge
together - around the world, tens of millions of people have
been wrestling with it, because of lockdowns.”
As for the 2020 Olympic postponement, Kiraly said “we’re all
approaching it grateful for the extra time to prepare and
sharpen ourselves for battle in Tokyo.”
The only player to win Olympic gold medals as an indoor (Los
Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988) and beach (Atlanta 1996)
participant, Kiraly said he has “not thought about coaching on
the sand. I am all in for coaching the USA Women.”
A winner of two international beach medals in 1988 and 1989 when
the FIVB started sanctioning events, Kiraly said he has “not had
many opportunity to follow beach, just a few AVP tournaments -
don’t have enough info to speak knowledgeably about the World
As for the World Tour, Kiraly said “I didn’t play many FIVB
events, but Hannes Jagerhofer put on amazing events in
Klagenfurt, fans always had a blast, I loved the energy there!”.
And of course, Brazilian fans always brought their best too, and
I loved the challenge of playing in summer conditions
(February), where it could be 44 degrees Celsius, and 98%
Growing up in Santa Barbara, Kiraly began playing volleyball at
age six with encouragement from his father, Dr. Laszlo Kiraly,
who had been a member of the Hungarian Junior National team
prior to fleeing the country during the Hungarian national
uprising of 1956.
Kiraly, who entered his first beach volleyball tournament paired
with his father, had a standout indoor high school career where
he credited his coach, Rick Olmstead, for teaching him "the
value of hard work and dedication." In college, Kiraly had a
hall of fame career at UCLA as the school competed in
four-straight national championship matches with titles in 1979,
1981 and 1982.
After playing on the United States national team for eight years
(1981-1988), Kiraly played professionally for Il Messaggero
Ravenna in Italy for three seasons (1990-1992) where the team
won several titles, including the Italian Volleyball League
(1991), the Italian Cup (1991), FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World
Championship (1991), CEV Champions League (1992), and the
European Supercup (1992).
Kiraly's beach career featured 148 career titles as he won at
least one tournament in 25 of the 29 seasons he competed in,
with titles with 14 different partners. He advanced to the
semifinals over 75 per cent of the time in his 354 recorded
domestic and international tournaments.
Selected by the FIVB as the greatest volleyball player of the
20th century, Kiraly was inducted into the International
Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2001 and the United States Olympic
Hall of Fame in 2008. He was also inducted into the California
Sports (2009) and USA Volleyball (2015) Hall of Fames.
After being Hugh McCutcheon’s assistant when the American women
won silver at the London 2012 Summer Games, Kiraly led the
United States to the bronze medal at Rio 2016 to join Yuri
Chesnokov, Bernardo 'Bernardinho' Rezende and Lang Ping in
becoming the fourth individual to win Olympic medals as both a
player and a coach.
Chesnokov captained the USSR to gold when volleyball made its
Olympic debut in Tokyo 1964 and then coached his country's team
to bronze (Munich 1972) and silver (Montreal 1976) Summer Games.
Lang Ping won Olympic gold for China as a player (Los Angeles
1984) and as a coach (Rio 2016). She also coached Summer Games
silver medal teams for China (Atlanta 1996) and the United
States (Beijing 2008).
Bernardinho won silver as a player at the Los Angeles 1984
Olympics before coaching Brazil women's (bronze medals at
Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000) and men's (golds at Athens 2004
and Rio 2016, and silvers at Beijing 2008 and London 2012) to
six Summer Games medals.