March 9, 2023
Kathy Deboer Announces Retirement from the AVCA
Kathy DeBoer will retire as the executive director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association on June 30, 2023. DeBoer took over the role in February 2006, and the AVCA moved its headquarters from Colorado Springs to Lexington, Kentucky, five months later.
“I see exciting times ahead for volleyball as well as challenges,” said DeBoer. “We’ve made a lot of progress on the participation front, which was my focus. We still lag on the exposure front, and this will take new leadership and fresh ideas.”
DeBoer has been a tireless advocate for the sport, working to create more opportunities for players and coaches. Her mantra for the AVCA—“Make Volleyball Matter”—has come to fruition in a number of ways. Across her 17 years, the association has:
- Seen membership increase from 3,200 in 2006 to a peak of 8,800 in October 2022
- Grown convention attendance from 1,200 to just under 2,800, as well as increasing the vender showcase and amount of programming at the event
- Added partnerships with 21 state volleyball coaches association, 35 Regions of USA Volleyball, and with the Junior Volleyball Association
- Provided a $150,000 grant to First Point Volleyball Foundation as seed money to “fund the fundraising” for adding men’s college and high school boys volleyball programs. The number of college varsity programs has increased from 166 to 264 since the foundation was formed.
- Initiated the process for adding beach volleyball to the NCAA Emerging Sports list for women, which led to beach volleyball becoming an NCAA championship sport in 2016. In 2023, 180 schools have varsity beach teams, and the AVCA also has created the Men’s College Beach Alliance to provide support for men’s beach programs.
- Created/managed the first four collegiate women’s beach championships (2012-15), the AVCA Small College Beach Championship (launched in 2018), and the AVCA Fall Collegiate Beach Championships (first held in 2022).
“The legacy of leadership is measured in the growth of those we serve. For nearly two decades, Kathy DeBoer has served the sport of volleyball and the AVCA with immense passion and persistence,” said Keegan Cook, president of the AVCA Board of Directors and head women’s volleyball coach at Minnesota. “In that time and under her guidance, the sport of volleyball has grown, and Kathy has inspired and supported countless leaders within the game. The greatest gratitude we can show is continuing her work on behalf of the AVCA to make volleyball matter.”
Since 2006, volleyball has experienced unprecedented growth across all levels. In 2015 volleyball became the top team sport for high school girls in the U.S., and in 2022 high school boys participation topped 70,000 for the first time. The 2023 Division I Women’s Championship saw record attendance. In 2012 an NCAA Men’s DIII Championship was added, then a Men’s NAIA Championship followed in 2019. And college women’s beach became the fastest sport in NCAA history to ascend from an emerging sport to championship status.
DeBoer, who earned a bachelor’s degree in humanities from Michigan State University, played volleyball and basketball for the Spartans and was inducted into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame last fall. She spent 18 years in intercollegiate athletics at the University of Kentucky, beginning as head volleyball coach and finishing as Senior Associates Athletics Director.
The search for a new executive director will be conducted in conjunction with the AVCA Board of Directors and the organization’s parent company, Associations International.
About the American Volleyball Coaches Association
The AVCA, an educationally based nonprofit headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, is the largest and most diverse association of volleyball coaches in the world. With a broad mandate to develop the sport, the AVCA provides leadership, recognition, advocacy and professional development opportunities to over 8,200 volleyball coaches. Members include college, high school, club, and youth coaches, as well as a wide variety of product and service providers..