Kevin Hambly has been an assistant coach at Illinois for the past five seasons
Jan. 8, 2009
Champaign, Ill. - Director of Athletics Ron Guenther has announced the promotion of Kevin Hambly to head volleyball coach at the University of Illinois. Hambly becomes the seventh head coach in the program's history and just the third in the last quarter century. He replaces Don Hardin, who retired after 13 years as head man at Illinois.
I am very pleased we are able to hire Kevin Hambly as our seventh head women's volleyball coach," Guenther said. "Kevin has an outstanding playing and coaching resume. We have had the opportunity to observe him as an assistant coach where he played an instrumental role in the recruitment of the current squad that has lead to the resurgence of the volleyball program. The fact he is an alum and is married to one of our former outstanding players in Mary Coleman is an additional bonus. Kevin and Mary understand our strong volleyball tradition and have a passion for the University of Illinois."
Hambly has served as assistant coach for the Fighting Illini for the last five years, the first two years as a volunteer assistant and the last three as a full-time assistant. His impact has been felt in every area of the program. He and his wife, Mary, were primarily responsible for bringing in the sixth-rated recruiting class in the country, a class that just finished their sophomore years. Last year's class included Michelle Bartsch, ranked number 16 nationally in that class and who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in December.
"It's a great honor to be head coach of a program with such a rich history and tradition," Hambly said. "It is exciting to follow in the footsteps of what Don and those before him have done to not only establish a legacy of winning, but also one whose players excel academically and in life. I am thankful to both Ron Guenther and Vince Ille for having the confidence in me to continue that tradition and strive to compete for Big Ten and national championships. As alumni of Illinois, Mary and I have a special place in our hearts for this university and feel the tremendous support this community has for the volleyball program. Having been around the program for five years, I believe we have a group of student-athletes who are as good of people as they are players and along with the staff and administration, they will strive to achieve the vision that has been established for Illinois volleyball."
Hambly has been in charge of practice planning, training and scouting as well as recruiting. The level of play has raised over his time at Illinois, bringing with him many of the techniques and philosophies he developed under Toshi Yoshida, the U.S. National team coach for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. With Hambly serving as an assistant coach, the U.S. went from 12th to first in the Federation of International Volleyball (FIVB) world rankings in the nine months leading up to the games for just the second time. In those four years, the U.S. won the NORCECA championship four years in a row, won a silver medal at the World Championships, a bronze medal at the World Cup and a gold and two bronze medals at World Grand Prix Tournaments.
Kevin has an outstanding playing and coaching resume. We have had the opportunity to observe him as an assistant coach where he played an instrumental role in the recruitment of the current squad that has lead to the resurgence of the volleyball program.
Director of Athletics Ron Guenther
With a starting line-up of a freshman, four sophomores and two juniors, all recruited by Hambly, Illinois completed a 26-8 season in 2008; defeated seven ranked teams and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament after earning the ninth seed overall in the tournament. The Illini placed third in the Big Ten with a 15-5 mark, sweeping seven Big Ten teams and closing out the year winning 13 of their last 17 matches. Hambly helped recruit and coach Laura DeBruler, who was named Second Team All-American in 2008 as a sophomore and engineered a defense that finished 15th nationally in blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Johannah Bangert led the nation in blocks individually.
"I am elated that the future of our volleyball program will be in Kevin's hands," Hardin said. "He is the most brilliant and insightful coach I know. He has worked extremely hard to put our program on a successful path and I know our Illini fans and community will be very happy with the way in which he will go about his work. Kevin is chiefly responsible for our most recent success. While some period of transition is always necessary, this will reduce the transition period that most new staffs undergo."
A native of Simi Valley, Calif., Hambly was an All-American in volleyball at Royal High School and chose to play that sport at BYU, leading the nation in blocks in 1995. Hambly was named to the Volleyball Monthly All-Freshman Team in 1992, was selected as a third-team All-American in 1994 and earned American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) First Team All-America honors in 1995. The Cougars ended the season ranked in the top 10 in the nation three times and came within one win of the Final Four twice in Hambly's playing days.
Hambly played professionally for Montpellier University Club in France, leading the league in hitting efficiency and in blocks before beginning his coaching career as an assistant at UNLV in 1997. In his four years in Las Vegas, the Rebels produced nine all-conference performers. Hambly also founded and directed the Rebel volleyball club, which evolved into the highly respected Club Las Vegas team and founded the men's volleyball club team at UNLV. While at BYU he also served as the head coach of the Highline Volleyball Club's 16 & under teams for two years.
His experience with USA Volleyball began in 2001 where, in addition to serving as an assistant for the national team, he was also the head coach of the USA Women's National Training Team for two tournaments during his tenure. In 2002, he guided the team to fifth at the Pan American Cup in Mexico. In 2003, he led the team to third place at the Mexicali Centenarian Women's Volleyball Cup and second at the Pan American Cup. Hambly continues to serve USA Volleyball as a consultant during try-outs.
He also served as an assistant coach for Minnesota of the United States Professional Volleyball, helping lead the Chill to the league championship in 2002.
Hambly graduated with highest honors from the University of Illinois in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation, Sport and Tourism with an emphasis in sports management. He and Mary have two daughters, Quinn (2) and Maura (five months).