On Sunday, April 9th, The Pacific Athletic Foundation hosted an event at the Stockton Golf & Country Club to celebrate the legacy of Pacific Volleyball and pay homage to the three former coaches that led the program through their 30 years of dominance from 1976-2005.
These legendary coaches included Dr. Taras Liskevych, John Dunning and Jayne McHugh. Throughout their combined 30 years at the helm of Pacific Volleyball, the program reached the NCAA Tournament 24 consecutive years, featuring seven Final Four appearances and two National Championships in 1985 & 1986.
The night brought together Pacific Volleyball alumni, former coaches and trainers, boosters, fans, UOP staff, and the 2017 Pacific Volleyball team.
Master of Ceremonies, Jim Dugoni, got the program started by welcoming guests and highlighting some of the greatest accomplishments in Pacific volleyball history.
"And all of this talk about excellence and leadership will no doubt be fuel for the fire and inspiration for all of us in the room tonight, but especially for the members of our 2017 Pacific Tigers women's volleyball team. Because their goal this season is to return Pacific Volleyball to the NCAA tournament, where it rightfully belongs, right up there among the nation's elite!"
Next up to the podium was current Pacific women's volleyball head coach, Greg Gibbons. Gibbons shared his thoughts on the history of the program and his respect for the three coaches being honored, including two of his mentors, Liskevych and Dunning.
The first honoree of the night was Jayne McHugh who was part of the Pacific Women's Volleyball legacy both as an All-American student-athlete and as a head coach of the Tigers from 2001-2005.
"Jayne earned All-America honors three times for the Tigers and was inducted into the Pacific Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993 and the National High School Hall of Fame in 1996." -Jim Dugoni
McHugh took this time to reflect on her experiences both as a student-athlete and a coach, thank her family for all of their support, and share words of encouragement to the current Tiger volleyball team.
The second honoree was Dr. Taras Liskevych who was the Pacific Volleyball head coach from 1976-84. The Tigers were among the top 5 in the nation during 6 of his 9 years, going to 5 Final Fours.
"After leaving Pacific in 1984, Liskevych served as head coach of Team USA for the next 3 Olympic Games in 1984, '88, and '92. In 2003, he was part of the inaugural class inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame." -Jim Dugoni
Liskevych expressed how great it was to see old friends and mentors, shared stories of the early days of Pacific Volleyball, and provided the audience with a couple of his favorite inspirational quotes.
The final honoree of the night was John Dunning who was the head coach of the Tigers from 1985-2000, including the two National Championship seasons in '85 and '86.
"In 32 seasons as a head coach between UOP and Stanford, Dunning's teams never missed the postseason. He led 12 teams to the Final Four and joined current Penn State head coach Russ Rose as the only coaches in the history of the sport to guide 10 teams to the national championship match." -Jim Dugoni
Dunning shared with the audience how attending Liskevych's volleyball clinic changed his life and that it is never too late to find your path, how his most successful teams were like a pulsing heart that continued to get stronger as the season went on, and how he will always have an immense amount of love for the Pacific volleyball program.
Following the honorees, the PAF surprised former volleyball administrative assistant of over 30 years, Barb Paris, with a bouquet of flowers given to her by junior captain, Katrin Gotterba.
"Before we go, the night would not be complete without a special tribute to someone in the room this evening who faithfully served under all three of those legendary head coaches." -Jim Dugoni
University of the Pacific Director of Athletics, Dr. Ted Leland, closed out the evening sharing a couple stories of his own, his efforts to resurrect the volleyball booster club, and thanked everyone for coming out to celebrate the accomplishments of our three honorees and their former student-athletes.
The Pacific Volleyball alumni in attendance gathered together for a photo followed by their singing of the Tiger Fight Song.