Jan. 17, 2015
Jim McLaughlin, the only person to coach both a women’s and a men’s volleyball team to NCAA titles and a former women’s volleyball national coach of the year at the University of Washington, has been named head volleyball coach at the University of Notre Dame.
McLaughlin (pronounced muh-GLOFF-lin) coached the USC men’s team to an NCAA title in 1989-90 and then led the University of Washington women’s team to the 2005 NCAA crown. He comes to Notre Dame following 14 highly successful seasons as the Huskies’ coach, a tenure that featured four trips to the NCAA national semifinals in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2013. He earned rave reviews for turning around struggling women’s programs both at Washington and at Kansas State University.
McLaughlin also brings Notre Dame family ties with him back to South Bend. He spent one season as an Irish assistant volleyball coach in 1996 under Debbie Brown–and his wife, the former Margaret Jarc, is a 1993 Notre Dame graduate, a former Irish women’s soccer player, 1992 co-captain and four-year monogram winner. She spent two years as a Notre Dame assistant women’s soccer coach (1995 and 1996), with the Irish winning their first NCAA title in that sport in 1995.
With 25 years of NCAA head coaching experience, McLaughlin has proven his abilities both to recruit talented student-athletes and to cultivate championship programs. He has made 19 appearances in the NCAA postseason in his 25 years, including four with Kansas State, which advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2000. He also spent seven seasons as the men’s head coach at USC, where he won the 1990 national championship and finished as runner-up in 1991.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome of our coaching search,” said Notre Dame vice president and athletics director Jack Swarbrick. “Jim McLaughlin is an elite coach who has enjoyed success at the highest levels. However, fundamentally, he is an extraordinary teacher of the game and is absolutely committed to helping student-athletes reach their full potential in all aspects of their collegiate experience. I am excited to watch him implement his unique style of coaching here at Notre Dame.”
“I am excited to become the new head coach of women’s volleyball at the University of Notre Dame,” said McLaughlin. “The University of Washington was a great place to coach and, at this point in my career, this is the only other school I would have even considered. Since first having been given the opportunity by Debbie Brown to coach here as an assistant for one season, I always thought it would be a great place to be a head coach. I love the school’s values, the spirit, the tradition, the beautiful campus and the enthusiasm of everyone that is a part of this great university. There is no doubt Notre Dame is a special place.
“I want to thank Jack Swarbrick, the athletics director, who has expressed his complete support for women’s volleyball and the desire to return Notre Dame volleyball to prominence and who has shown such tremendous faith in me leading the program. I also want to thank Missy Conboy, Notre Dame’s senior deputy athletics director, who first approached me about the coaching position and who has been so patient and helpful as my family and I evaluated this coaching opportunity.
“I believe Notre Dame can become a top-tier volleyball program. The school has so much to offer student-athletes, and I think recruits will see the opportunities available to them here. The University offers a world-class education, wonderful facilities, great support and a tremendous college experience. We will have an opportunity to impact lives, not just for four or five years but for 40 or 50 years. Student-athletes will be interested in how Notre Dame can help them. We are going to create a winning culture and make the program competitive again.
“I can’t wait to get to work so that we can help return Notre Dame volleyball to being a program that competes at the highest level.”
McLaughlin is coming off a 2014 season at Washington in which the Huskies set a program record for regular-season wins with their 31-3 overall mark, ranked as high as No. 2 in the AVCA poll, earned a No. 3 national seed in the NCAA Championship and earned a slot in the NCAA bracket for the 13th straight year, the eighth-longest active streak. Leading his team was outside hitter Krista Vansant, a two-time Honda Award winner (2013 and 2014), the 2014 ESPNW national player of the year, the 2014 Capital One Academic All-American of the Year in volleyball and a two-time Pac-12 player of the year.
In addition to a national title, the McLaughlin era at Washington produced four NCAA Final Four appearances, three national players of the year, three Pacific-12 Conference titles, 17 players who combined for 34 American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America awards, nine CoSIDA Academic All-America scrolls and 58 all-Pac-12 awards.
McLaughlin was recognized by his peers as the 2004 AVCA National Coach of the Year and Pacific-12 Coach of the Year in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2013. The four Pacific-12 Coach of the Year honors are tied for second most in conference history. McLaughlin took over the Washington program in 2001, inheriting a team that finished last in the Pac-10 standings in 2000. Within five seasons he transformed the Huskies from worst to first, not just in the Pac-10 but also in the nation, as Washington captured the 2005 NCAA title in McLaughlin’s fifth season.
Under his direction the Huskies qualified for 13 straight NCAA Championships (2002-14), advancing to the Final Four on four occasions, with seven Elite Eight and eight Sweet 16 appearances since 2002. Washington finished first or second in the loaded Pac-12 eight times in the past 11 years.
McLaughlin’s coaching resulted in some of the NCAA’s most decorated players over the past 14 years. Vansant (2013 and 2014) and setter Courtney Thompson (2005) each won the Honda Award for the top player in the sport, and Vansant also took home the AVCA National Player of the Year honor in 2013. Volleyball Magazine named outside hitter Sanja Tomasevic its player of the year in 2005, and twice named libero Tamari Miyashiro the national defensive player of the year.
The influence McLaughlin has had on the sport of volleyball in Seattle was on display in 2013 when Seattle played host to the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship for the first time. The Huskies reached the Final Four for the first time since 2006, playing the semifinals in front of a sold-out KeyArena, which holds nearly 15,000 fans.
Washington has been ranked in the AVCA top 25 in every poll since week one of 2003– and over the last 11 years has been in the top 10 in 164 of a possible 175 coaches polls. The Huskies achieved the No. 1 national ranking in 2004, 2005 and 2013, and the No. 2 ranking in 2006, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
The U.S. national team has prospered in recent years thanks to Husky standouts who played under McLaughlin. Among those is a pair of silver medalists from the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London–former Honda Award winner Courtney Thompson and three-time All-American Tamari Miyashiro. Jenna Hagglund and Janine Sandell have competed for Team USA and Great Britain, respectively.
Before arriving at Washington, McLaughlin spent four seasons as women’s coach at Kansas State (1997-2000), compiling an 82-43 record and advancing to the NCAA Championship all four years. Two Wildcats earned All-America honors, seven were named to the all-Big 12 Conference first team and 15 garnered first-team academic all-conference accolades with McLaughlin at the helm. In 2000, he coached Kansas State to a 22-9 record, a program-best No. 16 national ranking and its first trip to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Before he was hired at Kansas State on April 16, 1997, McLaughlin spent one season as an assistant women’s coach at Notre Dame. That year, the Irish (22-12) went unbeaten in conference play, earning the BIG EAST Conference regular-season and tournament titles.
At USC McLaughlin’s men’s teams went 142-75 (.654) and ranked in the top 10 five times. Fifteen players earned All-America accolades, led by two-time national player of the year Bryan Ivie, who joined teammates Dan Greenbaum and Nick Becker to earn a bronze medal in Barcelona, Spain, as members of the 1992 U.S. Men’s Olympic squad.
In 1989-90, McLaughlin’s first season at USC, the Trojans (picked fifth and seventh, respectively, in the two preseason polls) won the school’s fourth NCAA title and finished 26-7 overall. McLaughlin joined Pepperdine’s Rod Wilde as the only rookie coaches to win NCAA men’s volleyball titles. A year later, USC entered the 1990-91 season with a No. 1 ranking and held that spot all season. McLaughlin’s Trojans won 34 of 36 matches and lost just 21 games. The team rattled off a school-record 30-match win streak, including a perfect 16-0 record in conference play.
An elite setter as a player, McLaughlin played two seasons at Santa Monica Junior College (1980-81), helped win the 1981 California Junior College Championship and competed in the 1981 U.S. World University Games. He transferred to UC Santa Barbara (1982-83) as the Gauchos’ starting setter for two seasons, earning honorable mention All-America honors as a senior. While finishing his bachelor’s degree in film studies, the 1985 graduate served as a student assistant coach for both the UCSB men’s and women’s squads. He captained the 1985 U.S. World University Games team and was a United States Volleyball Association All-American.
McLaughlin spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Pepperdine University (1986-89), helping the Waves to a combined 74-41 record and the 1986 NCAA men’s title. The Malibu, California, native also has experience coaching on the international level as a three-time head coach at the World University Games (1991, 1993, 1995), in addition to serving as head coach of the 1991 Pan-Am team and a consultant for the men’s U.S. Olympic teams in 1992 and 1996.
McLaughlin and his wife Margaret are parents of three daughters: Megan (16), Molly (14), and Marit (8).
What They’re Saying About Jim McLaughlin
Angie Harris Akers, 1997 University of Notre Dame volleyball co-captain and co-team MVP:
“I am beyond excited about the hiring of Jim McLaughlin as Notre Dame volleyball coach. I had the opportunity to play for Jim during my junior season at Notre Dame and I can attest to his brilliance as a coach, motivator and overall great human being. On a personal level, I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and attended Notre Dame basketball camps as a kid. I have developed a lifelong love for Notre Dame, as has my husband Jeremy Akers (a former Notre Dame and NFL offensive lineman)–and we both understandably are ecstatic about this news. Having lived here amidst Pac-12 country in southern California for the past few years, I have gained an even deeper appreciation for how well respected Jim is throughout all levels of the game, and on both the men’s and women’s side.
“While Jim’s resume speaks for itself as to the success he has achieved, I personally have witnessed the profound impact he has on his players. Besides my personal playing experience, I competed against one of his former star players at Washington, Christal Engle, while playing professional beach volleyball on the AVP Tour. It is clear Jim has made a significant impact in the lives of those players lucky enough to play for him. He inspires his players to be the best they can be and shows them how to achieve it. Jim’s calm, cool demeanor and incredible knack for sharing his abundant knowledge is a rare gift. Jim will bring something special to Notre Dame, without a doubt.”
Courtney Thompson, University of Washington setter (2003-06), three-time AVCA All-American (twice first team), three-time CoSIDA Academic All-American, member of 2005 NCAA championship team and member of U.S. silver-medal team at 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London:
“Jim McLaughlin’ s legacy is how he quickly created a program at Washington that was a perennial powerhouse in contention for the conference and national championship. His knowledge of the game, his ability to teach and the way he inspires his players to improve daily–they all helped create this incredibly fun and productive environment in which to play volleyball. Above all, Jim cares about each of his players like they’re family. And because of that, players, past or present, would tell you he not only helped them become better athletes but also better people.
“During my four years at UW, Jim taught me, as a setter, not only how to direct an offense and set at a high level, but also how to learn and compete on a day-to-day basis, which is the reason I am where I am today. If it weren’t for Jim, I would never have been part of a team that won a national title or gone on to live another dream of mine and compete in the Olympics for Team USA.
“Jim changed UW volleyball forever. I obviously am sad to see him leave, but simply by knowing the family man that he is, I respect his decision and am excited for what’s next for his entire family. I loved every day I got to play for Jim McLaughlin, and everybody involved with Notre Dame volleyball has a lot to look forward to.”
Dr. Carl McGown, former BYU men’s volleyball head coach, two-time national coach of the year and former U.S. Men’s National Team head coach:
“Jim is the best teacher in the world. He knows exactly how to convey what he’s thinking so that his team excels. He understands the sport of volleyball just about better than anyone out there. He has a proven track record on the court–just look at what he did to turn around Washington.
“Notre Dame is going to get a whole lot better, real fast. I’m confident that Jim will be able to very quickly turn that program around. Hiring Jim is probably the best decision Notre Dame could have made, in terms of coaching.”
Marv Dunphy, Pepperdine men’s volleyball head coach and four-time national coach of the year:
“Jim McLaughlin was born to coach our sport. He knows the game at the highest level. He can teach the sport as well as anyone in the world. He has always had a fabulous working relationship with young people. More so than anything else, he gets it. Not all coaches do.”
Jaimie Lee, 1997 University of Notre Dame volleyball co-captain and honorable mention All-American:
“I was fortunate to be a part of the 1996 Notre Dame team when Deb Brown brought Jim McLaughlin in as an assistant. I learned things from Jim in that year that stayed with me throughout my career and I always appreciated how professional he was as a teacher of the game. Several years later, as I was coaching junior club volleyball, I had two athletes go on to play for Jim at the University of Washington. One, Becky Perry, went on to become an AVCA All-American who still plays professionally today in Italy. The other is a current setter on the Washington team, Katy Beals. I’ve had this unique opportunity to play for Jim, coach junior players who went on to play for him and play against players who played for him on the AVP Tour–and there is a common thread among all of those people: a respect and admiration for who Jim is as a teacher and leader.
“Twenty two years ago, when I committed to Notre Dame, I believed we could win a national championship. We fell short, but my feeling hasn’t wavered. Notre Dame is a special place and is an experience that’s hard to describe. For those of us who’ve been blessed to be a part of it, I think it’s an exciting time to see where the program goes in the future.”
Lindsay Treadwell Rosenthal, 1998 University of Notre Dame volleyball captain, team MVP and first-team all-BIG EAST selection:
“During my sophomore season at Notre Dame, I had the great fortune of being coached by Jim McLaughlin when Debbie Brown brought him in as an assistant coach. Jim is a master at breaking down the game and understands how to get the best out of his players. His success at Kansas State and Washington makes me really excited about the future of Notre Dame volleyball. As Notre Dame alums and parents of volleyball-playing daughters, my husband (Mike Rosenthal, former Notre Dame and NFL offensive lineman) and I are really excited to see the Notre Dame volleyball program grow. The University of Notre Dame is lucky to have such a great coach and role model added to its family.”