John Kessel

Since 1985 John has been working for the National Governing Body of the sport, USA Volleyball (USAV), now as Director of Sport Development. He currently serves as the staff liaison for Disabled Programs, USA Deaflympic Teams, Starlings USA, National Parks and Recreation Assoc., the YMCA and over 30 other Affiliated Organizations working with USAV. He is Secretary of the NORCECA Technical and Coaches Commission, and Director of Development for World ParaVolley. He was Team Leader for the 2000 USA Olympic Beach Volleyball Teams in Sydney, which brought home one gold medal, and for the 2004 USA Paralympic Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team in Athens, which came home with the bronze medal. In 1995, Volleyball Magazine’s special Centennial issue named him one of the 50 most important people in the sport in the past 100 years. In 2013 the American Volleyball Coaches Association inducted him as their 60th member of the AVCA Coaches Hall of Fame.

John has been coaching since 1971 at the collegiate level or above, including Women’s U.S. Open titles in 1986 & 1987. A sought after international lecturer, he has conducted seminars in all 50 states, and in over 50 nations. He is also a busy author, with over half a dozen USAV books, including the IMPACT coaching manual, the Jr. Olympic Volleyball Program Guide, and most recently Minivolley 4 Youth, the Youth Coloring Book, and countless articles. His blog called “Growing the Game Together” is the second most popular blog of the hundreds found on the US Olympic Committee’s Team USA website and he promotes the “Grassroots” Button on the USAV website with material, videos, posters, and information for clubs, schools, coaches, parents, players, and officials. He has received many other awards, including USA Volleyball’s Honorable Mention in 1978 and 1986, the Harry Wilson Distinguished International Service in 2004, the George Fisher Leader in Volleyball in 2006 and in 2007 was named a Sport Ethics Fellow by the Institute for International Sport.

For over a decade John served as one of 8 members of the International Volleyball Federation’s Technical Commission, as Secretary, and he remains a FIVB Level IV Instructor. Since 2001 he has served as Secretary on the NORCECA Technical and Coaches Commission, developing clinics and the “Leave a Ball Behind” Program to enhance zonal volleyball growth, and directed a two year State Department Sports United Grant to assist coaches in six NORCECA nations in 2011-12. He helped run the World Sitting Volleyball Championships in 2010, and the Director of Development for the World Organization of Volleyball for the Disabled (WOVD – now known as World ParaVolley) for 2012-2016. He served on Jury at the London 2012 Paralympics for Sitting Volleyball, in 2014 for the ParaVolley World Championships and will again in 2016 Rio Paralympics.

Kessel pioneered USA Volleyball on the Internet. He is an administrator of the 7,500 closed member Facebook page “Volleyball Coaches & Trainers” and an advisor to the website From 1987 to 1991 he was the tournament director for the U.S. Jr. Olympic Volleyball Championships and began the U.S. Junior Olympic Beach Volleyball Championships in 1993, directing them until 2000. He also designed and directed the Nike VolleyVan program with 4 years of daily clinics in the lower 48 states, and currently directs the MVP project, working to get a “Million Volleyball Participants” connected to USA Volleyball. For that, he developed a series of CDs, with animated drills, skill posters, videos and dozens of articles for growing the game for youth, juniors and adults, and created a follow up SportKit DVD for World ParaVolleyball specific to the sitting game.

As a player Kessel has participated in 16 U.S. Open Championships, and was a 7 time Regional Champion. He also played professionally with the Denver Comets in the old International Volleyball Association, and a year in Italy for the Alessandria Volleyball Club. Recently he competed for the Time Lords in the 55 & over division, 36 years after his first US Open in 1973. In 2004, he finished in the top 15 of the Men’s BB in the USA Outdoor National Championships, playing with his son, Cody, and has won several King of the Mountain Father - Son Doubles tournaments in Colorado. He returned to Junior Olympic Volleyball coaching when his children wanted to play, and his daughter McKenzie’s 13 and under team with Stellar VBC won the Bronze medal at the 2007 US Jr. Olympics in Minneapolis, MN. John also has coached lacrosse for the Cheyenne Mtn LAX Boys and Girls teams since 2000.

His main goal is to help make all coaches more efficient, positive and creative, no matter what level - 7 year olds in an elementary school program or National team players and programs. He challenges old ways of thinking and help coaches create what they need, while having fun in the process. John has a BA in Biology and Economics received from The Colorado College in 1974, and since 1996 he has been a single dad, raising his kids alone. His pastimes beside volleyball include fly-fishing, writing, skiing, lacrosse, mountaineering, upland game hunting, deep-sea fishing and travel.


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