Story by Dawn Moses
Photos by Crystal Adams-King
Beach volleyball trailblazers Misty May-Treanor and her father, Robert “Butch” May, were hired by Long Beach City College and have coached the school’s first season of women’s beach volleyball.
Misty May-Treanor – It’s okay if the name does not immediately ring a bell. Just take a second to recall the two women beach volleyball players who refused to return to America without an Olympic gold medal in three consecutive Olympics (2004, 2008, 2012).
The same woman posted on Wheaties cereal boxes in 2012, was hired in 2016 as the head of volleyball operations at LBCC. “I saw the job opportunity and applied,” she said. She sat down at a computer and created a resume, filled out an application, and went through the interview process.
Coaching and running an entire college volleyball operation is a far cry from playing. Fortunately for the Long Beach community, May-Treanor’s resume was chock-full of impressive and relevant qualifications.
May-Treanor holds a Master’s degree from Concordia University Irvine in Coaching and Athletic Administration, and a certification from the Beach Coaching Accreditation Program co-founded by the coordinator of Beach Coaching and Development for USA Beach Volleyball, Jon Aharoni.
May-Treanor also volunteered as an assistant coach at the University Southern California, her alma mater California State University Long Beach and worked closely under her former high school coach at Irvine Valley College.
Part of May-Treanor’s responsibility as head of volleyball operations was to recruit and hire a coaching staff. Continuing a theme of mastery in her life, she gathered a group of complementary individuals whose area was each intensely impressive.
In an interview about the newly formed staff Aharoni said, “It is unbelievably fantastic, probably the best in the country.” After a small intellectual pause, one of the only in the conversation, he escalated his stance and said, “actually, the best assembled coaching staff in the world.”
Opinions that use typically hyperbolic words like “best in the world” provide enough cause for a second expert opinion. Lee Feinswog, co-editor of Volleyball Magazine, who already had his own in-depth knowledge of the coaching staff said, “To have perhaps the greatest women’s beach volleyball player of all time, the dad who trained her, and like Misty, a member of the International Volleyball Hall of Fame in Debbie Green; well that is hard to beat.”
When presented with the two expert opinions from the volleyball community, May-Treanor staunchly said, “My dad is a legend.” In her typically humble fashion, she did not comment on her own reputation and credentials.
“The dad who trained her” is the downright-old-school embodiment of a legend. Butch May’s credentials began in Hawaii in the 1960s, and because of his killer brand of pure passion and genuine love of volleyball, he continues contributing to his passion at LBCC while in his mid-70s alongside his only daughter.
Beside his own membership in a 1968 Olympic volleyball team and graduating in the BCAP commencement class under the direct instruction of Aharoni, May’s coaching credential is highlighted by his most important pupil: His daughter.
In her 2010 book Misty: My Journey through Volleyball and Life, she wrote, “He was, and still is, the best volleyball coach I’ve ever had. He’s technically phenomenal, very demanding, and never without an opinion.”
Debbie Green, the 29th inductee to The International Volleyball Hall of Fame was referred to by the organization as the quarterback for the 1984 silver medal winning American Olympic team. Green retired from CSULB in 2009 after a 23-year coaching career, including coaching May-Treanor during her collegiate career.
It’s speculation, but May-Treanor may be the only person to convince Green to forsake refreshing retirement and return to coaching at the community college that sits 4.3 miles north of CSULB.
May-Treanor’s motivation to head the operation and coach women’s beach and indoor volleyball at Long Beach’s community college level became clear when drudging through her past. Both of her parents coached at the community college level. May-Treanor reflected on that time and said about her own daughter Malia. “She is the same age I was when I was running around Dad’s gym at Santa Monica College while he coached,” she said.
Butch May will never endure risk of losing legendary status on the sand or in the spirit and soul of beach volleyball. May-Treanor and Debbie Green will exist in international conversations throughout history as pioneers of the game and heroes in the rise of women’s athletic dominance.
Aharoni accurately articulated, “Beach volleyball is beautiful. Fun. Exciting. Simple. Sexy. In the sun, not a stinky gym. As long as there is enough SPF, you are set.” It’s not clear if the “set” pun was intended, but it is certain that all you need is a beach chair, ice chest of refreshments, and SPF to watch a couple of brilliant volleyball minds give back to their athletic community on the sand at Granada Beach in Long Beach, CA.