Legendary Waves Coach Marv Dunphy to be Awarded USA Volleyball’s Top Honor

Marv Dunphy flashes the number of Olympics he has participated in after the USA Women's Volleyball National Team captured gold at last summer's Olympics. Contributed photo.

Marv Dunphy, the Hall of Fame Pepperdine Waves men’s volleyball coach, will receive USA Volleyball’s highest honor this spring.

Volleyball’s national governing body announced on Feb. 22 that Dunphy, who coached the U.S. Men’s National Team to four gold medals in the 1980s, will be awarded the Harold T. Friermood “Frier” Award on May 25 at the USA Volleyball Hall of Fame ceremony at the Dorothy C. Boyce Banquet in Orlando, Fla.

Dunphy, currently Pepperdine’s head coach emeritus, said he is truly honored to get the Frier Award and credited others for him being set to receive the distinction.

“I learned from some truly great, great coaches that were on the cutting edge of teaching and training and coaching our sport,” he said. “Mostly though, I was able to coach some of the best players to ever play our sport. I was pretty lucky to work with pretty special athletes.”

The award recognizes individuals who have made significant accomplishments to the sport of volleyball for a minimum of 30 years, and who have promoted volunteer leadership service and effective relationships in the U.S. or abroad. Dunphy will be the 52nd winner of the honor.

Jon Lee, an indoor and beach volleyball player, coach, and journalist received the award in 2020. John Kessel, USA Volleyball’s past director of sport development and a fixture with the governing body, was tapped for the honor two years ago.

The volleyball award is named after the second president of USA Volleyball, who is mainly responsible for volleyball becoming an Olympic sport. Dunphy said Friermood’s actions mean a lot to him.

“I’ve been a beneficiary of all his work, going to nine Olympic games,” he said.

Dunphy, a Topanga native, coached the Waves to four NCAA titles and a 612-277 during his 34 years as head coach. He retired after the 2017 season, but it’s still a constant presence around the volleyball program. He was also the 2005 National Coach of the Year and won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coach of the Year award three times.

Dunphy initially served as the Waves assistant coach until he got the head coaching job in 1977, three years after graduating from Pepperdine. He was a middle blocker on the squad during his college years.

Dunphy coached the U.S. Men’s National Team to gold medals at the 1986 World Championships, 1985 World Cup, 1987 Pan American Games, and the 1988 Olympics.
The legendary coach has served as an assistant coach, consultant coach, or scouting coach in seven more Olympics since the 1980s for either the USA women’s or men’s teams, and those bunches have collected one bronze, one silver, and two gold medals. Dunphy was a consulting coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team that captured gold at the Tokyo Olympics last August.

Dunphy loves every minute of his time with the red, white, and blue adorned volleyball squads.

“When you’re a teacher or a coach, you don’t do it to say, ‘Hey, 60 years from now, I’m going to get the Frier Award.’ You don’t do that. You do it to develop players, people, and teams,” he said. “We all have a desire or need to be a part of something good. I think the world of the USA teams.”

Dunphy’s other honors include being a member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association, International Volleyball, Southern California Indoor Volleyball, and Pepperdine Athletics halls of fame. He also has won the U.S. Olympic Achievement Award and FIVB All-Time Great Coaches Award.

Dunphy said when he learned he would receive the Frier Award, he thought about his coaching career in its entirety.

“In sports, you don’t work in a vacuum,” he said. “I reflected a little bit on all the people that helped me in my journey. They are part of this, and I hope they feel good about it too. They played a significant role in my journey.”