One of the greatest coaching careers in the history of collegiate sports came to an end following the 2012 season, as Al Scates, following his historic 50th season, retired. Scates left an unmatched legacy of success, longevity and influence in collegiate men's volleyball.
Each season the UCLA men's volleyball team pointed toward one goal: winning the NCAA championship. First place was the desired finish. Scates coached UCLA to 19 NCAA titles, capturing nearly half of the championships awarded since 1970.
Wrote the late Jim Murray, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Los Angeles Times, "Al Scates?! Precisely. The one and only. The man who is to volleyball what (John) Wooden was to basketball, (Red) Sanders was to football, Napolean to artillery..."
"California boasts some of the world's best sporting mentors, among them UCLA volleyball coach Al Scates . . .," wrote Sally B. Donnelly in Time Magazine.
Scates' program produced unparalleled success because of three elements: 1) outstanding student-athletes; 2) an excellent coaching staff and 3) a winning tradition.
Al Scates and UCLA volleyball won NCAA championships in 1970-71-72-74-75-76-79-81- 82-83-84-87-89-93-95-96-98-2000-06. He was the only coach to guide his team to three successive titles three times, including four straight from 1981-84. Scates was named Coach of the Year in 1984, '87, '93, '96, '98 and 2006.
Scates' 50-year coaching record of 1,239-290 (.812) is one of the best in collegiate sports. When he retired that record ranked first among all Division I volleyball coaches. In addition to their 19 NCAA titles, the Bruins also won USVBA collegiate championships in 1965 and '67 under Scates' stewardship. During his six decades at UCLA, he coached 54 different first-team NCAA and 26 USVBA All-Americans, 44 U.S. National Team members, 27 Olympians and seven different Players of the Year. In addition, Scates was the longest serving Division I volleyball coach in the United States.
In 2012, Scated led the Bruins to a 22-8 overall record and their 49th playoff appearance. Seniors Thomas Amberg and Kyle Caldwell earned consensus First-Team All-America honors and senior Weston Dunlap was a consensus second-team selection. The Bruins won their record seventh Outrigger Hotels Tournament title and spent six weeks atop the AVCA poll. Amberg, Caldwell and Dunlap earned First-Team All-MPSF honors, and sophomores Gonzalo Quiroga and Evan Mottram were second-team honorees. Finally, Amberg and Dunlap ranked first and third, respectively, in MPSF hitting percentage, while Caldwell led the league's setters with 203.0 points.
In 2011, Scates guided the Bruins to their 48th playoff appearance. Junior Weston Dunlap and freshman Gonzalo Quiroga earned All-MPSF honors as the Bruins won their sixth Outrigger Hotels Tournament title in 11 appearances. Dunlap and Quiroga were also selected players of the week, while Dunlap led the nation in hitting percentage for the season. Quiroga set a UCLA freshman record by serving 39 aces. In addition, juniors Thomas Amberg and Jeremy Casebeer were voted to the All-MPSF Academic Team.
In 2010, the Bruins made their 47th playoff appearance under Scates after he won his nation-leading 1,200th career match on Apr. 9 against Long Beach State at the Pyramid. The Bruins defeated top-ranked Cal State Northridge twice and eventual NCAA champion Stanford once as senior Garrett Maugututia ended his career as one of the program's elite players. Muagututia earned second-team All-America honors and four other players were named to the MPSF All-Academic Team.
In 2009, several freshmen emerged as future stars and Muagututia earned All-America honors.
In 2008, the Bruins extended their national record to 46 consecutive winning seasons before falling in the first round of the MPSF playoffs. UCLA's playoff berth was its 45th under Scates. In addition, senior Tony Ker earned national Defensive Player of the Year honors for the third straight season, another first, and he was named a First-Team AVCA All-American.
In 2007, the Bruins recorded their 45th consecutive winning season. Ker became the 52nd first-team All-American in the Scates Era and Steve Klosterman became the Bruins' all-time leader in kills and points during the rally-scoring era.
In 2006, Scates guided the Bruins to their most exciting NCAA title, taking a team that was 12-12 through mid-season and leading it on a 14-match march through the last third of the league season, the MPSF playoffs and the NCAA Tournament. No player earned AVCA 1st Team All-America or 1st Team All-MPSF honors, and yet, when the dust settled at the end of the season, the Bruins were NCAA champions once again. Their final 26-12 mark and they became the first seventh-seeded team in league history to win the conference tournament.
At the NCAA Championship, Steve Klosterman earned Most Outstanding Player honors and seniors Damien Scott and Dennis Gonzalez were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Scates was named the 2006 Coach of the Year by Spike/Volleyball magazine.
In 2005, Scates guided the Bruins to a record of 26-6 and an appearance in the NCAA Finals for the 24th time, a collegiate record. Quick hitter Paul Johnson became UCLA's 51st First-Team All-American and freshman Ker earned second-team honors. The Bruins finished second in conference play with a record of 18-4 and both Ker and Johnson were First-Team All-MPSF selections. On March 8, 2005 Scates won his 1,100th match -- a 3-0 victory in Pauley Pavilion against Penn State.
On Dec. 16, 2004, Scates was inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame.
In 2004, the Bruins recorded an overall record of 24-6, 17-5 in conference play. Two players earned All-America honors and six were selected to various All-MPSF Teams. At the Olympics in Athens, five former players represented UCLA, including four who played on the beach.
On May 17, 2003, Scates received the UCLA Alumni Association Award for Professional Achievement.
In September 2003, Scates was named as a coach to the USA Volleyball Men's All-Era Team for the period between 1978-2002, joining former Bruin players Doug Partie and Karch Kiraly.
On October 3, 2003 Scates was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame, the first active coach in UCLA history to be enshrined.
In 2003, he co-authored his fourth book, "The Complete Guide to Volleyball Conditioning," with former UCLA Strength Coach, Mike Linn.
In 2002, the Bruins rose to No.1 in the rankings before untimely injuries to key starters at playoff time ended their season. Still, three starters earned post-season honors, and three other players earned all-conference acclaim. Sophomore Adam Shrader was named ASICS/Volleyball Libero of the Year and senior Matt Komer earned second-team AVCA All-America honors. Freshman Jonathan Acosta earned distinction in Sports Illustrated's Faces in the Crowd.
In 2001, seniors Mark Williams and Adam Naeve earned first-team AVCA All-America honors and led the Bruins to the NCAA finals for the second time in three years. The Bruins won their 23rd league title, 11th in the previous 13 years. Scates also was awarded the Distinguished Sports Award by the U.S. Sports Academy.
On Feb. 3, 2001, Scates won his 1,000th career match, a 3-1 triumph at Pepperdine. In addition, the Bruins won their fourth straight Outrigger Hotels Invitational. Finally, Scott Morrow and Adam Naeve earned NCAA All-Tournament honors.
In 2000, senior Brandon Taliaferro inspired the Bruins on the court and Scates prepared them for an exciting run to the national championship. Forced to win the grueling MPSF Championship, the Bruins defeated defending NCAA champion BYU in the first round, beat Loyola Marymount in the semifinals and ousted Pepperdine in the league championship match to earn the top seed at the NCAAs. Then, they swept Penn State in the semifinals and Ohio State in the finals to capture title No. 18. Taliaferro earned Player of the Year honors from Volleyball Magazine, senior Matt Davis earned Libero of the Year honors and Williams, Seth Burnham, Evan Thatcher and Morrow earned either All-America, NCAA All-Tournament or All-MPSF honors.
In 1999, five of six starters received all-league accolades and juniors Taliaferro and Naeve repeated as AVCA First-Team All-Americans.
In 1998, Scates' masterful expertise brought the Bruins to the NCAA finals for the sixth straight season. After outlasting Lewis University in the NCAA semifinals, the Bruins' championship experience enabled them to sweep Pepperdine for their 17th title. Scates also earned a unique trifecta of coaching accolades: he was voted AVCA, USA Volleyball and U.S. Olympic Committee Coach of the Year. Finally, he was elected to the California Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame.
In 1997, Scates guided a team that had lost the co-player of the year and its primary passer to the NCAA title match for the fifth consecutive year. The Bruins, who rallied from an 0-2 deficit in the final, came within two swings of stealing their third straight title. Scates coached the Bruins to their fifth consecutive MPSF Mountain Division crown and was named 1997 MPSF Coach of the Year. On February 19, 1997, the Bruins defeated USC on the road, capturing Scates' 900th career victory.
In 1996, Scates took a team that lost four starters from the previous season's national championship squad and guided it to a fourth straight division title and league championship, finally culminating in UCLA's 16th NCAA title and 21st national championship in men's volleyball.
In 1995, Scates guided the Bruins to their 15th NCAA title, a 31-1 record and a third straight conference divisional title. The Bruins finished the season with 19 straight victories, and were ranked No.1 nationally in the coaches poll for 34 consecutive weeks dating to 1993. From 1993-95, the Bruins amassed streaks of 42 consecutive conference victories, 34 straight home wins and 28 straight road triumphs. In May of 1995, he was selected as one of the inaugural recipients of USA Volleyball's All-Time Great Volleyball Coaches Award.
Scates became the first active coach to be inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in ceremonies at Holyoke, MA, in October of 1993.
Under Scates, UCLA holds 27 NCAA men's volleyball team and individual records, including consecutive victories (48), consecutive home court victories (83), consecutive NCAA tournament victories (15) and most undefeated seasons (3). No other program boasts an undefeated season.
In 1984, Scates saw three of his former players, Karch Kiraly, Dave Saunders and Steve Salmons, lead the U.S. Olympic volleyball team to the gold medal. In addition, former UCLA All-Americans Doug Partie and Ricci Luyties joined Kiraly and Saunders on the 1988 Olympic Team, which successfully defended its Olympic title.
Under the leadership of Kiraly, Partie and Salmons, the U.S. Team completed its only Triple Crown, adding a 1986 World Championship title to its 1985 World Cup crown and '84 Olympic gold medal. Kiraly left no doubt that he was the world's best volleyball player, earning World Cup and USA Cup Most Valuable Player honors.
At the 1992 Olympics, Partie returned to the USA Team and led it to a bronze medal. Fred Sturm (UCLA '76) served as head coach.
At the 1996 Atlanta Games, Kiraly made history by becoming the only male volleyball player ever to win three Olympic gold medals. Kiraly and partner, Kent Steffes, won the inaugural Olympic Beach Volleyball competition at Atlanta Beach. Indoors at Atlanta, Scates served as a consultant to the U.S. team, watching former All-Americans Jeff Nygaard and Dan Landry as well as coaches Fred Sturm and Rudy Suwara.
On the AVP Tour, former Bruins Sinjin Smith and Randy Stoklos were the beach circuit's premier team in the 1980s. Smith won 139 professional beach tournaments. Prior to his retirement, Kiraly dominated the beach circuit by winning a record 148 open beach tournaments. He also has earned more than $3 million in his professional beach career.
Scates played on six USA championship teams and was named All-American several times.
During his first year coaching at UCLA, Scates founded the Southern California Volleyball Assn. and served as its commissioner from 1963-72. The SCVA is now known as the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
He chaired the NCAA Volleyball Committee for two years and was also chairman of the USVBA Collegiate Volleyball Committee. From 2005-07, he served a three-year term on the AVCA Board of Directors as the men's collegiate representative.
The UCLA alumnus earned a BS in Physical Education in 1961 and completed his Master's in P.E. from UCLA in 1962.
The former UCLA All-American has traveled the world as both a player and coach, and is recognized as one of the United States' foremost volleyball authorities. In the summer of 1997, he guided a contingent of current and former collegiate players at the World University Games in Sicily.
In 1999 Scates served as the Head Coach of the USA Team that competed in the World University Games in Mallorca, Spain.
Scates and his wife, Sue, live in Encino. Sue is a Broker Associate for Coldwell Banker in Encino. They have three children, daughters Tracy (UCLA '86) and Leslie (Northern Arizona `04), and a son, David (CS Northridge `93), and four grandchildren.
AL SCATES' CAREER COACHING RECORD
*UCLA also won USVBA Collegiate Championships in 1953, '54 and '56.