There are a few coaching legends in volleyball and Pete Hanson is one of them. I only met Coach Hanson one brief moment in time, but it was enough to make a lasting impact.
When I was coaching at Miami University, we had a spring match at Ohio State on a Tuesday night. Spring volleyball on the women’s side doesn’t account for a whole lot. Its a time to get all the athletes in the match, a time to play with line-ups, systems, formations, etc, and a time to learn. Spring volleyball on the men’s side means a whole lot. They are in season and little did Ohio State know at the time, they were to win a National Championship that spring.
As I walked into the gym that early evening, the men’s team just got off the floor and were in a classroom scouting for their opponent the following evening. Ohio State was to play perennial foe Ball State in the MIVA Semi-Finals the next night. The net was still at men’s height and I see the back of a grey haired man working on the net. I walked up to this man and as he turned around, I was shocked to realize it was Coach Hanson. He was lowering the net, by himself, to women’s height for our scrimmage that night. At a big program like Ohio State you’d figure a manager, student assistant, etc. would be handling these duties. Nope, just Pete.
I asked him if he’d like some help. He said, “No, I’m just find. I’ve done this a few times before. Go be with your team”. I replied, “Shouldn’t you be with your team?” (Considering he was in season and had a big match the following night). He said, ‘No, I trust my staff and my players. They are just fine.” I was positively taken aback and I did ‘have to’ help him lower the other side of the net.
Humbleness. Integrity. Character. In an office setting, you never know what you will learn around the water cooler. In volleyball, you never know what you will learn when adjusting the net.
Needless to say, Ohio State defeated Ball State the next night 3 – 0.