UCLA: Al Scates

Al Scates' 50th, final season winding down

April, 19, 2012
4/19/12
4:53
PM PT
Al ScatesCourtesy of Don Liebig (ASUCLA)There's plenty to know about Al Scates, who will soon complete his 50th season at UCLA.

Legendary UCLA men's volleyball coach Al Scates is nearing the end of a career that spans half a century and, to this point, 19 national championships. The 72-year-old Scates, often pegged as his sport's John Wooden, will leave his post having changed volleyball forever, just as Wooden did with basketball.

Scates, the longest serving Division I coach in the nation, embarks on a quest for his 20th title on Saturday night when his fifth-ranked Bruins open postseason play at UC Irvine. He will walk away at the end of the season, win or lose. Here are eight things you should know about Scates before he retires:

  • He was a pioneer. Convincing then-athletic director J.D. Morgan to let his team play inside Pauley Pavilion in 1965 was monumental to the sport's progress. Morgan was adamant to the idea at first, forbidding Scates from drilling holes into the hallowed wooden floor. So to hold a triple-header showcase, Scates compromised and had makeshift referee stands -- built of pipe, plywood and string -- shipped in from Omaha. Five thousand paying customers attended the event, by far the largest crowd the country had ever seen for a volleyball event. Volleyball soon became an NCAA sport. “J.D. Morgan saw his first volleyball match that night, and he liked it,” Scates says with his patented chuckle. “He was the chairman of the NCAA volleyball committee and negotiated TV contracts for the networks. When he wanted something done, it usually got done.”
  • He won from the start. Scates captured the first three NCAA championships and six of the first seven. The program was a perennial power by the time Karch Kiraly, arguably the sport's greatest player, arrived at UCLA in 1978. “Al was already a legend when I got to campus,” Kiraly says. “You wanted to play for the best? You went to UCLA to play for Al Scates.”
  • He was good at volleyball, too. Scates played on six USA championship teams and was named All-American several times.
  • He had a calm demeanor. According to former players, it was never clear which team had called a timeout. They could never tell by just looking at Scates. They’d walk to the team huddle, with him front and center, and nothing ever changed. Regardless of the situation he had the same confident expression on his face. Kiraly recalls one memorable moment from a five-match tour in Japan where UCLA, highly regarded in its own right, was expected to lose the finale to a collegiate all-star team. It was winter but the gym wasn’t heated. Steam escaped from players’ heads, as the Bruins dropped the first two sets. More than 5,000 miles away from home, all that could go wrong did. Scates didn’t flinch. “Al kept the same confidence level,” Kiraly says. “He had this little laugh that every guy on the team tried to mimic. It was a confident laugh.” There was nothing funny about it, though. Scates laughed because he knew what he had. UCLA stormed back and beat the Japanese on that chilly day in Tokyo, dominating the final set 15-2.

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Weekend roundup

March, 28, 2010
3/28/10
12:02
PM PT
Here's a brief look at how UCLA's Olympic sports teams have fared this weekend:

-- The No. 3 women's gymnastics team won its second consecutive Pac-10 Conference title behind all-around champion Vanessa Zamarripa's performance. Click here for a look at the results. Zamarripa recorded scores of 9.950 on vault and 9.900 on beam to become just the sixth sophomore to be named the Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year. "Vanessa is the most talented athlete we've ever had," coach Valorie Kondos-Fieldsaid. "We've had many, many Olympians on our team. For sheer talent, she's it. She's a true student of her sport." UCLA hosts the West Regionals beginning on April 10.

UCLA Athletics Sophomore Vanessa Zamarripa led UCLA to the Pac-10 title on Saturday.


-- Men's volleyball coach Al Scates is one win away from reaching 1,200 in his illustrious 48-year career following UCLA's five-set victory at UC Irvineon Saturday night. No. 7 UCLA has won four straight, improving to 14-9 and 9-7 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. It was the first game of the Bruins' five-game road swing.

-- The softball team, ranked No. 5 in the country, swept a double-header Saturday against UNLV, winning by scores of 8-0 and 11-3. The Bruins (24-4) host Loyola Marymount in a double-header on Sunday.

-- The No. 4 women's water polo team was overpowered by No. 2 Stanford on Saturday afternoon, dropping an 11-6 contest at the Spieker Aquatics Center. The Bruins (14-6) fell behind 7-3 after two quarters and were unable to recover against a strong Cardinal squad (18-1).

-- Both tennis squads came out victorious -- the No. 5 ranked women defeated No. 19 Washington 6-1 and the No. 12 men swept Oregon 7-0.

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