Washington coach Bill Neville has had a unique career. In his 30-plus years in the volleyball community, he has coached two different national teams and won an Olympic gold medal. He has coached club teams in Spokane, college teams in Montana and military teams in the Army. He has written books on volleyball and served as an architect of modern volleyball strategy. And he has been a builder of programs.
Entering his ninth season as the head volleyball coach at Washington, Neville has added several more impressive accomplishments to his already-lengthy resum√f¬© in his tenure as the Husky head man.
Last year, after suffering the loss of eight seniors off the previous year's team, Neville laid the foundation for another run of success. His team, which sometimes saw four freshmen in the starting lineup, fought its way to a 9-15 overall record and a respectable 7-11 Pac-10 mark.
In 1997, the Seattle native led Washington to its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, leading the Huskies to two tournament victories and the Sweet 16. The postseason appearance marked the Huskies' first back-to-back tournament trip since 1988-89. Washington (20-10 overall and 13-5 in conference play) also finished in second place in the nation's top volleyball conference, the Pacific-10.
For the second straight year, Neville coached a Husky player to first-team All-America status as Makare Desilets, the nation's top blocker, earned that distinction.
In 1996, Neville took the team to new heights as the Huskies, led by All-American Angela Bransom, finished third in the rigorous Pac-10 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The season also included a two-match sweep of UCLA and a 9-2 home record. With a 23-8 overall record, it was the Huskies' best season in nearly a decade and was the payoff for Neville's work in building the program with a corps of top-notch recruits.
Neville took over the Husky team 14 matches into the 1991 season. Given only a couple of days to get to know his new team and prepare for the Pac-10 battles, Neville travelled to Oregon and Oregon State in his first weekend and won a pair of 3-0 matches. Despite the disruption of a mid-season coaching change, Neville's first Husky team went on to win seven Pac-10 matches.
In seven-and-a-half years at Washington, Neville has posted a 110-99 overall record.
In 1995, his team won seven of eight matches down the stretch and barely missed an NCAA berth. In 1994, coach Neville guided the Huskies to their first NCAA tournament in five years, winning a first-round match before falling to national champion Stanford in the second round.
Certainly not a stranger to the volleyball circles at the collegiate or Olympic level, Neville's coaching career in the sport is well-documented through his teams' accomplishments. Neville's coaching duties have given him the opportunity to coach a women's club team, two different collegiate programs and three different Olympic teams.
Neville is a 1967 graduate of George Williams College in Downer's Grove, Illinois. He received his bachelor of science degree in group psychology with a minor in physical education. He began his coaching career in 1967 as the head coach for the U.S. All-Army Volleyball Team, while also serving as an assistant coach for the USA Men's National Team. His All-Army team captured first place in the Interservice Championships. In 1968, he worked in his first Olympic Games, travelling to Mexico City as an assistant coach for the USA Men's National Team.
In 1972, Neville moved across the border to Canada to coach to the Canadian Men's National Team. In taking the job, Neville became the first-ever full-time volleyball coach. Under his guidance, the Canadians improved their world ranking from 24st in 1974 to ninth after the 1976 Olympic Games, held in Montreal. The 1976 Olympics marked Neville's second appearance as a coach, and at that point, he was the youngest person ever to serve as an Olympic head coach in any sport. Neville remained the Canadian coach until 1977 when he accepted a position as the first full-time head coach at Montana State University in Bozeman.
This was to be the first of two coaching stays at Montana State for Neville, who built the unknown program into one of the top 20 teams in the country. During his first four-year stay, the Bobcats' women's team posted a 103-60 record. His first team finished with a 13-22 record. The Bobcats posted a 28-14 record during Neville's fourth year, good for third place in the region.
Neville took a leave of absence from Montana State in 1981 to work with the USA Men's National Team as an assistant coach. When Neville went to work for the team, it was ranked 19th in the world. With his help, it became one of the greatest teams in the history of the sport.
That men's team, led by such legends as Karch Kiraly and Steve Timmons, captured the Gold Medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. In 1984, Neville returned to Montana State where he coached for three more years and compiled a 34-55 mark.
In 1987-88 Neville was a technical director for the United States Volleyball Association. While working for the USVBA he developed the Nationwide Coaching Accreditation Program, which is still used. In his role at the USVBA, Neville wrote "Coaching Volleyball Effectively," essentially a textbook for coaching volleyball.
Neville has long been known as a strategic innovator in the sport and has much to do with the development of the swing offense.
Prior to taking over the Canadian men's national team, Neville served as coach of the YMCA senior men's and women's club teams in Spokane. He has also worked as an instructor at Whitworth College, and has conducted innumerable coaching clinics in the United States, Canada and Europe. He also found time to write a second book on volleyball, "Serve It Up."
Neville and his wife, Barbara, are the parents of a son, Ramsey.