Kara Kessans and Karch Kiraly
Karch Kiraly, center, calls the ball in at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as Kara Kessans, left, Erin Virtue, center back, and Luka Slabe, right, watch the match

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 6, 2022) – The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee today announced USA Volleyball Women’s National Team staff members Karch Kiraly as its Olympic Coach of the Year and Kara Kessans as its Service Provider of the Year for 2021.

Kiraly and Kessans were honored for their work in helping the U.S. Women’s National Team win its first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo and its third straight FIVB Volleyball Nations League title, both in 2021.

Olympic Coach of the Year – Karch Kiraly

Led by Head Coach Karch Kiraly, the U.S. Women’s Volleyball Team made history at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, earning the program’s first Olympic gold medal in history after defeating longtime rival Brazil.

Five of Kiraly’s players earned six individual awards for their performances during the tournament: Jordan Larson was named the Olympic Most Valuable Player and Best Outside Hitter on the “Dream Team;” Michelle Bartsch-Hackley was also named Best Outside Hitter. Haleigh Washington was named Best Middle Blocker; Jordyn Poulter was named Best Setter; and Justine Wong-Orantes was named Best Libero.

The U.S. women’s team also won its third straight FIVB Volleyball Nations League title in 2021.

U.S. Women's National Team StaffAs a coach, Kiraly has built trust and respect among his coaching staff and players. His coaching staff integrates sports medicine, strength and conditioning, and analytics into its decisions, while also allowing players to provide input on roster selections and starting lineups. Considered one of the greatest volleyball players ever, Kiraly won Olympic gold in indoor volleyball (1984, 1988) and beach volleyball (1996).

Service Provider of the Year – Kara Kessans

Physical therapist and athletic trainer Kara Kessans was instrumental in helping the U.S. Women’s Volleyball Team win the first Olympic gold in program history at the Tokyo 2020 Games. On the road to and during the Games, Kessans built treatment, rehab and recovery plans, and helped nearly one-third of the Olympic roster recover and heal from acute injuries on its way to Olympic success.

Beyond her work with the U.S. volleyball team, Kessans built a robust female athlete program in 2021, working with FitrWoman to study female performance and physiology more deeply, including individualized symptoms checks, nutrition adjustments, athlete education and more.

“USA Volleyball could not be more proud of Karch Kiraly and Kara Kessans for being recognized by the USOPC as Coach of the Year and Service Provider of the Year respectively,” said Jamie Davis, USA Volleyball president and CEO. “The amazing performances by these two in Tokyo were instrumental in the U.S. Women’s volleyball team winning the program’s first ever gold medal. I am excited to see their continued leadership as we march toward Paris with the goal of repeating gold.”

National Governing Bodies nominated their 2021 coaches as part of the USOPC Coach of the Year Recognition Program, and the winners were then determined by a USOPC selection panel. The USOPC Coach of the Year Recognition Program aims to recognize and award the work of quality coaches and providers that are creating significant impact in their sport and NGB throughout the year.

“Coaches play an instrumental role in the success of athletes, both on and off the field of play,” said Rick Adams, USOPC chief of sport performance and NGB services. “These deserving individuals dedicated their time, energy and resources into the wellbeing and preparation of U.S. athletes, who put on exemplary performances representing Team USA. It’s an honor to recognize these individuals who supported their athletes.”

Kessans and Kiraly are among eight supporting coaches who received annual awards from the USOPC.

Among the other winners, three coaches from USA Swimming took home honors, including Nathan Manley as Paralympic Coach of the Year, Ron Aitken as Developmental Coach of the Year and Todd DeSorbo as College Coach of the Year. Earning Coach Educator of the Year was Phil Edwards and Mary Murphy tabbed Volunteer Coach of the Year. To round out the awards, Dr. Randy Wilber earned the Doc Counsilman Science Award.