Al Scates, who has spent half a century coaching men’s volleyball at UCLA, will retire after the 2012 season.
Scates, 71, has led the Bruins to 19 NCAA championships and was selected national coach of the year six times. He has been inducted into four halls of fame — the American Volleyball Coaches Assn., UCLA, California Beach Volleyball and Volleyball.
“Even in high school, I knew that Coach Scates was the biggest deal around when it came to coaching collegiate volleyball,” said Sinjin Smith, who played at UCLA from 1976 to 1979. “He was bigger than life.
“When you got to UCLA, you found out what kind of respect he commanded — from his players, of course, but also from the entire volleyball industry.”
Scates, who was a walk-on at UCLA as a player, became coach in 1962. He has a 1,217-282 record. His last national title was in 2006, when the Bruins closed the season with a 14-game winning streak after a 12-12 start.
“He won championships with teams that no one thought could win,” Smith said.
UCLA had consecutive winning seasons from 1963 to 2008.
“It is a privilege to coach the fine young men that have participated and continue to compete for UCLA volleyball,” Scates said in a prepared statement.
Scates has coached some of the sport’s most talented players, including Smith, Karch Kiraly, Kirk Kilgour, Randy Stoklos and Ricci Luyties. But Smith said it was what Scates did with that talent that made him special.
“He would get the best out of them,” Smith said. “I was a good player, but the moment he saw I wasn’t trying my hardest, he’d let me know. He moved me over to the second court one time when I was a freshman and I never wanted to go back there again. I carried that lesson my whole career.”
Scates has had 52 players selected first-team All-American and seven selected collegiate player of the year. He has had 27 players compete in the Olympics.
“His record stands by itself,” Smith said. “No one else comes close.”