ANAHEIM, California (Aug. 31, 2016) – Three-time Olympian Clay Stanley has announced his retirement from the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Stanley (Honolulu, Hawaii), the opposite who won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games along with being named Most Outstanding Player and Best Server, is stepping away from the sport due to a knee injury he suffered during the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
“We reached a level with my knee that we couldn’t get past,” Stanley said. “If I can’t be ready to play right now then I’ve got to shut it down. We did everything we could and that’s that.”
Stanley, 38, was named USA Volleyball Men’s Indoor Player of the Year in 2010 and 2011. He led teams that won the FIVB World League in 2008, finished second in 2012 and finished third in 2007. He served as team captain in 2011-12.
He was named Best Server at the 2010 FIVB World Championship as the team finished sixth overall.
“The most impressive thing to me about Clay, and there are lots of impressive things, is how hard he worked to improve his game,” said Hugh McCutcheon, who worked with Stanley as an assistant coach during the 2004 Olympic quadrennial, and then as the U.S. Men’s head coach for 2005-08. “When he first came to the USA gym, he was kind of a blunt instrument. He had an amazing arm and could hit a heavy ball, but there wasn’t too much else. At the end of the 2008 quad, he could do so many things at a high level. He became one of the best in the World at his position”
Stanley said he couldn’t name just one highlight of his career.
“Winning is really awesome,” he said. “But the fact that I was improving and getting better and better and better was the highlight for me. It’s what kept me playing and what kept me wanting to get back to play.
“I miss it. I thought I was playing the best volleyball of my career when I got hurt in London (during the pool play match against Brazil). That’s more salt on the wound.”
Stanley’s coaches and teammates praised his toughness and his humility.
U.S. Men’s Head Coach John Speraw, who served as an assistant coach for Stanley’s teams during the 2008 and 2012 Olympic quadrennials: “The thing that’s always been noticeable about him is how quiet and humble he has been about the way he plays the game and the way he carries himself. He was unflappable. He was a guy who always handled the big moments with total poise and confidence. If there was a person who embodied, ‘walk softly and carry a big stick’ it’s Clay Stanley… Clay can leave with no regret. I think he gave it every effort he could. He gave everything he could to USA Volleyball.”
U.S. outside hitter Reid Priddy, who played with Stanley on the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Teams: “What impresses me about Clay, he’s a big guy, but he learned how to do all the little things. Of course he has always bailed us out of tough situations by his attacking and serving and much is made of his exceptional abilities in those skills. But he also developed into a great defender. Defense and tip-coverage was a huge value of our team and he was always a ‘team-first’ guy. For a guy like Clay to become great at tip coverage and defense spoke to his ability as a player to do it all!”
U.S. middle blocker and Team Captain David Lee, who played with Stanley on the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Teams: “He was an inspirational guy to look up to. His work ethic was incomparable to most. The way he was so humble about being one of the best players in the world is what made him special…. There is always a chance when you have Clay Stanley at the service line. There was always a chance that we could get back into a game. That was something we relied on and he always came through.”
Stanley says he and his family will return to Hawaii where he will work at his family’s flooring business. Stanley and wife Kristin have a daughter.