Doing as much
with less

Don Shaw enjoyed success as the
Stanford women's volleyball coach
and doesn't mind the shadows
of leading the Cardinal men

Game Day

By Grace Wen

Sometimes success can be too much of a good thing. In Stanford men's volleyball coach Don Shaw's case, the beast outgrew its master.

Shaw coached the Stanford women's team from 1984 to 1999 and led it to accomplishments unparalleled in Division I college volleyball.

When he walked away in early 2000, Stanford had just been to its fifth final four in six years. The Cardinal won four national championships (1994, 1996-97) during Shaw's tenure. He coached in eight national championship games. He won 10 conference championships in arguably the toughest league in the nation (Pac-10), including six in a row from 1994 to '99. His winning percentage of .863 (440-70) is still the best in NCAA women's collegiate history.

In spite all of this, Shaw needed a break. The program he nurtured and worked tirelessly had grown too consuming.

"It was a time where I felt like I needed a change," Shaw said. "I was going through some personal things and some family issues so there were a lot of factors involved. It got to a point where I was deciding what I wanted to do.

"We'd been very successful with the women's program. That's great and I really loved it, but my priorities were starting to change a little bit with regards to what's really important in life. I had to take some time off."

Shaw was at the pinnacle of his career when he went on a nine-month leave of absence to grapple with his personal life. When he returned in January of 2001, he coached the women through spring training before becoming the men's coach that summer. The opportunity presented itself when former Stanford men's coach Ruben Nieves resigned to work in a different part of the Cardinal athletic department.

The opening was perfect for Shaw. It would be his second stab at coaching the men. Shaw co-coached the men's and women's programs at Stanford with former U.S. men's national team coach Fred Sturm. In 1986, Shaw and Sturm split the men's and women's duties with Shaw taking over solely on the women's side.

"It's a nice change for one. The game is different," Shaw said. "It's much more of a power game. There's different things involved in tactics, strategies and techniques. And it's super competitive because there's so few programs."

But why switch to a sport with fewer resources, less support and less stability? Part of the reason was because it would be just that -- less of everything.

"The scope of the women's program is a lot larger," Shaw said. "We had lots of season-ticket holders, a big booster club and lots of issues going on around peripherally. It was a lot of work. My assistants did a great job of helping me out with it but then personal issues came up for me and my time, it made things a lot more difficult.

"When it comes right down to it, men's volleyball just doesn't get the notoriety that women's volleyball does. It's like going back in time because things haven't changed in men's volleyball basically since I was coaching it in 1984 and '85. There's no marketing, no budget, nothing. It is like going back to the days when if you needed to get something done, you have to do it yourself because there's nobody else to do it. With the women's program, I was able to delegate. It had gotten to a point where it had become much more of a corporation than a mom-and-pop operation."

Less notoriety does have its faults. Shaw went from a staff of two full-time assistant coaches, a marketing director and a secretary to having one full-time assistant coach and a volunteer coach. Shaw does share an administrative assistant who works with eight other sports.

But more personnel won't make it any easier to get to the men's NCAA championship. Shaw went to 12 final fours as the women's coach but he may not get to another one with the men during this stint.

When asked if it crossed his mind that he could have been coaching the women in the final four the last two seasons, Shaw did admit to thinking about it. But for now, Shaw is content.

"At this point in time, it's what I needed," Shaw said. "I needed to shift gears. I've gotten back to just the bare bones of teaching, coaching, and competing with my team and nobody on the outside really cares. And that's fine with me. I like to do those things. I don't need all the extra attention.

"I have my kids (an 11-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son) and I'm supporting my mom and my sister. I'm moving from one place to another currently. There's a lot of issues going on and this allows me to split my time between family and serious issues, and my program and my job. I needed to downsize somewhat and get my life organized."



When: Today and Friday vs. Stanford, 7 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: Live, KFVE, Ch. 5
Radio:Live, 1420-AM

Probable starters

STANFORD (2-4, 0-2 MPSF)

Ht. KPG A Digs

S K.Hansen (So.) 6-5 0.96 9 1.65

MB P.Bocage (Sr.) 6-6 2.45 2 0.35

MB C.Buell (So.) 6-5 3.00 4 0.00

OH W.Curtis (Sr.) 6-6 2.37 5 1.16

OH W.Strickland (Sr.) 6-9 2.48 2 1.48

Opp C.Toppel (Sr.) 6-8 4.67 7 1.67

L D.Vogel (So.) 6-3 NA NA 2.25

HAWAII (4-0)


S K.Tuyay (Jr.) 6-2 .36 0 1.29

MB D.Thomas (So.) 6-7 3.82 11 0.29

MB J.Stanhiser (Jr.) 6-10 1.71 1 0.07

OH C.Theocharidis (Sr.) 6-3 5.07 3 2.00

OH T.Ching (Sr.) 6-2 3.36 5 1.93

Opp E.Zimet (Sr.) 6-2 2.36 3 2.07

L J.Muise (Jr.) 6-0 NA NA 1.79

Notes: Muise will play despite a sprained finger in his left hand. Warrior middle blocker Brian Nordberg was activated to practice at 100 percent yesterday. The senior had been limited by shoulder surgery last fall. ... Hawaii has a slight edge over Stanford in the series (25-23). The Warriors survived a five-game thriller on the road last year and swept Stanford the second night. ... Toppel ranks in the top five in the Cardinal record book in kills per game (second), kills (fourth), and service aces per game (fifth). ... Stanford coach Don Shaw coached the women's program for 16 years before moving over to the men's program last year.

UH Athletics

E-mail to Sports Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --