The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) recently announced USA Volleyball Women’s National Team staff members Karch Kiraly as its Olympic Coach of the Year and Kara Kessans as its Service Provider of the Year for 2021.
Both Kiraly and Kessans played instrumental roles in Team USA’s first-ever women’s Olympic volleyball gold since the sport made its Olympic debut at Tokyo 1964.
Kiraly has led USA Volleyball’s women’s program since 2012, guiding the team to a plethora of titles, including the country’s first-ever FIVB Volleyball World Championship gold in 2014, bronze at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, gold at Tokyo 2020 and a clean sweep of VNL titles in 2018, 2019 and 2021.
His success with the women’s team is matched only by his personal accolades as an athlete. Kiraly is the only player in history to have won Olympic gold in both indoor (Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988) and beach volleyball (Atlanta 1996). His feats in the sport have seen him heralded as one of the greatest volleyball players of the 20th century.
Karch Kiraly, center, calls the ball in at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 as Kara Kessans, left, Erin Virtue, center back, and Luka Slabe, right, watch the match (Photo credit: USA Volleyball)
Meanwhile, physical therapist and athletic trainer Kara Kessans played a key role in building the treatment, rehab and recovery plans that kept the USA women’s national team in peak condition on the road to and during the Games. Kessans joined USA Volleyball in 2017, and her work has ensured the team’s sustained success over the past five years.
The USA’s National Governing Bodies (NGB) nominated their 2021 coaches as part of the USOPC Coach of the Year Recognition Program, and the winners were then determined by a USOPC selection panel. The USOPC Coach of the Year Recognition Program aims to recognize and award the work of quality coaches and providers that are creating significant impact in their sport and NGB throughout the year.
For the full list of USOPC award recipients, click here.