COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 22, 2019) – USA Volleyball is saddened to learn of the passing of legendary volleyball coach Mike Hebert. He passed away last night in San Diego at the age of 75.
Coaching volleyball was a labor of love for Hebert, who coached 35 seasons at the collegiate level and four decades lending his expertise to the U.S. Women’s National Team and USA Volleyball’s High Performance pipeline. He was named USA Volleyball’s Donald S. Shondell All-Time Great Coach in 2011.
“Mike Hebert was a special man and a special coach, and our volleyball world will miss him dearly,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Karch Kiraly said. “He served USA Volleyball at so many levels over many years, both players and coaches, and his wisdom, perspective and humor were unique. Any day spent with Mike was a day that made us better, and made us grateful. We’re sending prayers for strength and comfort to all of Mike’s family and friends.”
Hebert served as the head coach for the U.S. Women’s Team at the 1987 World University Games in Yugoslavia. He traveled to the 1989 Canada Cup and 1990 Cuba Cup as part of a series of assignments with the U.S. National Team. In 1991, he pulled double duty coaching teams at both the World University Games in England and the Pan American Games in Cuba. In 2003, he served as head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team that claimed bronze at the Pan American Games. Eight years later, he served as an assistant coach on the 2011 U.S. Women’s National Team that won bronze at the Pan American Games.
“Exactly eight years ago I was at my first tournament for Team USA winning my first medal in the Pan Am Games,” said Cassidy Lichtman, former U.S. Women’s National Team player and current member of USA Volleyball’s Board of Directors. “One of the coaches guiding that young team was Mike Hebert. I met Mike when he was recruiting me to Minnesota and even though I went elsewhere he was so supportive for my whole career. I got to hang out with him more after he retired and moved to San Diego and when he’d come along with the National Team sometimes. The knowledge he dropped in those moments will stay with me. The volleyball world has lost a great coach and the world has lost a wonderful human being. I’m grateful I had a chance to know him. RIP Mike and thank you.”
After retirement as a collegiate coach in 2011, Hebert served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team during the 2013 season while battling Parkinson’s Disease. “There are a lot of layers of life after retirement,” Hebert said back in 2014. “Parkinson’s Disease is a daily entanglement I’d rather not deal with – everyone has a card to play in life.”
Hebert served as a master coach within the USA Volleyball’s High Performance program for the U.S. Collegiate National Teams following his collegiate coaching career through 2016.
Hebert walked away from the collegiate game with a 952-392 record, ranking fourth on the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball victory list at the time of his retirement in 2011. He is the only coach in NCAA Division I women’s volleyball to ever lead two different programs from the same conference to the national semifinal round.
During his 15 years with the University of Minnesota volleyball program, Hebert led the team to 14 NCAA tournament appearances, eight NCAA regional trips, four NCAA regional finals, three national semifinal berths and one NCAA title match in 2004.
“We are all deeply saddened by Mike's passing,” said Hugh McCutcheon, who was the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team head coach and current University of Minnesota head coach. “He had a profound impact on volleyball here at the University of Minnesota, but his sphere of influence in our sport was far greater than that. He was extremely successful at the University of Illinois and he led a number of very successful international campaigns with USA Volleyball. He was a great man, a great coach and he will be missed by the entire volleyball community.”
Overall, Hebert coached 28 seasons in the Big Ten, including 13 years with the University of Illinois program. He led the Illini to a 323-127 record and two NCAA semifinal round appearances in 1987 and 1988. His Big Ten career includes Coach of the Year five times. Hebert was named Volleyball Magazine’s National Coach of the Year in 2003 after leading Minnesota to the NCAA semifinals, and the AVCA National Coach of the Year in 1985 while with Illinois.
Hebert’s college coaching career started in 1976 at the University of Pittsburgh. During his four seasons at Pittsburgh, he compiled a 129-52 record and four appearances in the AIAW East Regional. However, in the last two seasons at Pittsburgh, he doubled as the men’s volleyball coach, posting a 60-21 record. Hebert moved on to University of New Mexico, posting a 60-57 record in three seasons before taking the Illinois position.
Hebert is the only coach to have 300 wins at two different NCAA Division I programs, and the only coach to bring four different programs to a national postseason tournament (AIAW or NCAA).
Hebert assembled an all-star list of talented players during his college coaching career, as he produced 17 All-Americans. Included in that list are three-time Olympian Lindsey Berg, 2008 Olympian Nicole Branagh and U.S. National Team players Mary Eggers and Cassie Busse.
Hebert was an accomplished author, passing along his coaching knowledge to future generations of coaches. His last book, Thinking Volleyball, was published in fall of 2013.
Hebert was inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2006. He also served as the organization’s president from 1985 to 1988.