After spending 17 years as the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s executive director, Kathy DeBoer will join the association’s Hall of Fame.
The selection committee chose DeBoer as the only inductee for the Class of 2023, and she’ll become the 97th AVCA Hall of Fame member. The ceremony will take place Thursday, Dec. 14, at the AVCA/USMC Honors Banquet during the 2023 AVCA Convention in Tampa, Florida. There also will be a reception the night of Dec. 15 honoring DeBoer.
Her storied career in collegiate athletics started during her undergraduate days at Michigan State, where she was a volleyball and basketball player. After graduation, she was a highly successful volleyball coach at Ferris State (1980–83) and Kentucky (1984–92), before moving into athletics administration for nine years with the Wildcats. She took over as the executive director of the AVCA in 2006 a position she held until she retired this June.
Across the years, DeBoer has been a leading voice for the sport who has worked tirelessly to create more opportunities for players and coaches. Her mantra at the AVCA—“Make Volleyball Matter”—was realized in many ways during her 17 years with the association. A couple of the major highlights were seeing volleyball experience unprecedented growth across all levels and working to help women’s beach volleyball become an NCAA championship sport.
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. One of the byproducts of the exponential growth on the boys side has been the increase in collegiate men’s teams, a number that has risen by more than 100 since 2016.
DeBoer was an early champion for beach volleyball and helped the sport move quickly from the NCAA Emerging Sports list to championship status in 2016. In 2023, 180 schools had women’s varsity beach teams, and the AVCA created the Men’s College Beach Alliance in 2022 to provide support for men’s beach programs.
Under her leadership, the AVCA created and managed multiple beach events including 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).
Some other highlights during her tenure at the AVCA were adding more than 55 partnerships with state volleyball coaches associations and regions of USA Volleyball; seeing the association’s membership grow from 3,200 in 2006 to a peak of 8,800 in October 2022; and helping grow the AVCA Convention, both in terms of attendance (up from 1,200 to a high of nearly 2,800) and the amount of programming and vendors/sponsors.
Prior to joining the AVCA, she spent 18 years in intercollegiate athletics at the University of Kentucky, beginning as head volleyball coach and finishing as Senior Associate Athletics Director.
DeBoer’s volleyball coaching career started at Ferris State, where she reached the 100-win mark in just four seasons. She took over as the Kentucky volleyball coach in 1984 and quickly returned the Wildcats to the upper echelon of college volleyball. She became the first coach in school history to reach the 200-victory mark—her record was 209-97 (.683)—and her teams won 24 or more matches in five of those seasons.
She led the Wildcats to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament four times, including an Elite Eight appearance in 1987. Following that remarkable season, in which her team went 31-2 and had a 25-match winning streak, DeBoer was named the AVCA Division I National Coach of the Year.
Click here to see the full list of AVCA Hall of Fame members.