Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, April 26, 2001


UH logo

Wilton goes up
against friend,
former teacher

UH coach's rival tonight
was once his grad school advisor

By Grace Wen

When Carl McGown served as the advisor to Hawaii head coach Mike Wilton's graduate thesis, he didn't know that 20 years later he would be coaching against his former student.

But that is the setting for tonight's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation men's volleyball semifinal between Brigham Young and Hawaii in Provo, Utah.

The match (KFVE, KCCN 1420-AM) starts at 3:30 p.m. HST.

"When he was a graduate student here, I was not a volleyball coach," McGown said. "BYU didn't start its program until 1990, and he was a graduate student long before then. I'm not sure if he was looking for a career as a volleyball coach at that time, but I was a professor in the physical education department at that time. I never thought I'd be coaching volleyball, so certainly I didn't think we would be playing and coaching against each other."

The coaches have quite a bit of history together. The two almost crossed paths as player and coach when McGown coached at Brigham Young-Hawaii from 1964-1968. McGown left a year before Wilton started his playing career there in 1969.

Tonight's matchup is just the latest between them. In 1978, they first coached against each other when Wilton brought Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's men's volleyball team to Utah to play McGown's club team.

They met again when Wilton assumed the head coaching position for Cal Poly's women's volleyball team and McGown was helping out with BYU's women's volleyball team.

The only time they were on the same side was when Wilton spent a few months in 1991 as an assistant to McGown, prior to being named coach of the Warriors in 1993.

Since then, they see each other at least once a year during the regular season and sometimes in the playoffs.

Despite the numerous matches played against each other, Wilton still isn't fully at ease when the Warriors battle the Cougars.

"I don't like it," Wilton said. "I like it from the standpoint that I'm going to play against a team that's prepared to the nth degree and going to be really really well coached, and really really good so I like that.

"But I don't like to coach against him because he's my friend. One thing's for sure -- it's very true that we're very good friends. However, when it's time to play ball, he's going to try to beat my brains out and I'm going to do the same to him. And that's how we would both approach it. I suspect he would be disappointed if it wasn't that way."

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