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Dr. James Coleman

Born: October 22, 1931 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (United States)

Died: August 3, 2001 in Duluth, Minnesota (United States)

Enshrined: 1992

Country: USA

Category: Coach


Biography (Current at time of Induction)

Jim Coleman was one of the true American Volleyball coaching pioneers of the modern age, particularly at the international level.

Overall Jim took part in seven Olympic Games, eight Pan American Games, five World Cups, six World Championships and eleven NORCECA Championships of which he was a co-founder. Coleman was the coach of or worked with every national men's team and coach from 1965 to his passing in 2001. Coleman served as the Head Coach of the USA Men's National Volleyball Team three separate times---1965-1970, 1979-1980, and finally in 1990.

In 1968 he was the Head Coach of the USA Men's Olympic Volleyball Team that competed in Mexico City, Mexico. He served as an Assistant Coach for the USA Men's National Volleyball Team from 1971-1972 and 1987-1990.

He served as an advisor to USA Men's National Volleyball Team Head Coach Doug Beal. Coleman served as the Team Leader for the 2000 USA Men's Olympic Volleyball Team in Sydney, Australia.

He was part of the Coaching/Advisory staff during USA Volleyball's greatest era, 1984-1988 when the USA Men's Team won the Olympic Gold Medal at both the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea; as well as the 1985 World Cup, the 1986 World Championships, and the 1987 Pan American Games. This five-year run of victories crowned the USA Team as the best men's team in the history of the sport.

Coleman has said that his favorite memory was the victory ceremony at the 1988 Olympic Games because it was the culmination of a great five-year dynasty.

James Eugene Coleman was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 22, 1931 to George and Meme Coleman. He learned the game of volleyball from his father who was on the staff of the Springfield, Ohio YMCA. He graduated from Springfield High School in 1949 and then attended Wittenberg University (Ohio) where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Chemistry in 1953. He got a Master‚s Degree in Physical Education at George Williams College in Illinois and received his Doctorate of Education Degree from Brigham Young University in 1975.

Coleman taught chemistry and other science classes for 20 years at The University of Kansas, Wittenberg University, and George Williams College. Coleman started the volleyball program at the University of Kansas and turned it into one of the best in the country, finishing third at the 1957 Collegiate Championships and second a year later.

He was also the Head Coach of the George Williams College Men's Volleyball Team in 1973, 1974, and 1976, winning the NAIA National Championship in 1974. Coleman coached the Women's Volleyball Teams at Whitman College and Washington State University from 1981-1984.

He was also involved in two women's professional volleyball leagues, as the head coach of the Minneapolis entry in Major League Volleyball (MLV) in 1987 and more recently with the United States Professional Volleyball League (USPV) of which he was named Vice President of Technical Affairs in December 1999.

Coleman was one of the first systematic volleyball statisticians. He and his wife, Lee, created volleyball statistical systems, which are now used worldwide. He also created the net antennae used in today's competition. He was a member of the FIVB Rules of the Game Commission for 25 years and was an editor of the FIVB Rules Casebook. He was an advocate for many rule changes in the game including the tie-break game, serving from behind the entire endline and changing the match format.

Coleman officially retired from USA Volleyball in 1998, but his integral involvement did not end as he continued to serve the organization and the national teams in consulting and international relations roles. Coleman has received numerous accolades and recognition for his contributions to the sport he loved so much. He has received three of the most distinguished awards presented by USA Volleyball: the George J. Fisher Leader in Volleyball Award in 1964, the Harry E. Wilson Distinguished Service Award in 1996, and the All-Time Great Volleyball Coach Award in the Pioneer Division in 1999.


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