The U.S. Naval Academy announced on Thursday that Larry Bock, who has won more matches than any other coach in NCAA volleyball history, will retire. He has spent 41 years as a collegiate head coach, including the last 7 at Navy, and in that time has amassed 1,347 wins as a women’s head coach and 1,448 as a collegiate volleyball head coach – both of which are NCAA records. No other coach is within 4 seasons of catching his total in combined victories.
Just as one of the few remaining Division I head coaching spots was closed up last week via promotion at Niagara, another new opening will spin the carousel again.
Bock’s final year at Navy saw the team finish 23-8 and 12-4 in the Patriot League – a new program record for conference wins. It also was the school’s first-ever win over 15-time league champion American and saw Navy in the Patriot League Tournament Championship match for the first time in 18 years. He was named the 2017 Patriot League Coach of the Year.
He came to Navy in the spring of 2011 after 34 years as the head coach of the women’s team at Division III Juniata College. The program had a 1,242-192 record in his time there and reached the NCAA National Championship Tournament in each of his last 30 years there. That included D3 national titles in 2004 and 2006. He also spent 6 years as the school’s men’s coach (100-91-4 record) and 15 years as the school’s athletics director. He is a 5-time AVCA D3 National Coach of the Year, a member of the AVCA’s inaugural Hall of Fame Class in 2003, and was one of 2 NCAA Silver Anniversary D3 Team Head Coaches in 2006. USA Volleyball has also recognized him with a Trailblazer Award in 2006 and an All-Time Great Coaches Award in 2009.
With his retirement, Peggy Martin, the head coach at Division III Spring Hill College, becomes the new active leader in wins with 1,309 – all with women’s teams. She could catch Bock’s all-time women’s record within 2 seasons. Penn State head coach Russ Rose, with 1,213 women’s victories, is the new active leader with 1,213 NCAA women’s volleyball victories since the NCAA began recognizing women’s athletics in 1982. Bock also ranks in the top-15 all-time coaches in winning percentage
“No doubt an unparalleled coach, administrator, and leader, but even more importantly a magnificent person who has influenced the lives of so many student-athletes for decades. Larry has been the standard for which excellence has been measured in the sport of volleyball. Without any reservation or debate, his colleagues and peers agree he has been an icon in our profession. I am so grateful for his contributions to the Naval Academy and our midshipmen over one of the most successful tenures in our history. He has built a program with a solid foundation and delivered a mindset that resonates with being a champion in every detail and endeavor. Assistant coach Jeremy Sands will assume interim head coaching responsibilities at this time. I am extremely confident Jeremy will continue to pursue the ambitious goals of the program while conducting business as Larry, with great success,” said Chet Gladchuk, Navy Director of Athletics.
“In 2011, I was charged with getting Navy volleyball on solid footing,” said Bock. “Solid footing here is a high bar that implies competing for championships and beating Army. We’ve made good progress by those measures. Add in terrific returners, level-5 team leadership, wonderful coaches in place, and two top-50 incoming recruiting classes. I think this is now a really healthy sustainable piece of athletics architecture, populated by incredible people and has been built to last. So I think we’re pretty darned solid and I can retire with a good professional conscience. Personally, I’m in good health and reasonably fit, but my energy level is not up to the high standard that we set for our team and that’s been a worry. Family is of course the biggest factor. Mostly, I’m ready to be a more available and visible grandfather, father and husband.
“The last seven years were a wonderful capstone on an athletics career full of many really cool moments. Something of a bonus from working with all my players is an absolute determination that our country will be in really good hands. I’ve been so lucky to have had the good fortune to work with the absolute best of the best.”
“(Wife) Lyn and I will be moving nearer the kids in Pittsburgh,” said Bock. “And many years ago my very wise Dad once told me in a rare moment of reflection, ‘Son remember that only one thing really matters in life: golf.’ So lots of that awaits me. I’ve been terrible at maintaining relationships so I want to check in with my old players, coaches, friends and colleagues. I want to sit up in the top right corner of Memorial Gym (at Juniata) with Mark Pavlik and watch Heather coach. I want to sit in the stands at Wesley Brown Field House with Jason Wagler and truly enjoy that amazing Navy volleyball fan experience. I want to be a more involved grandfather than I was as a father and may turn into an absolutely pain-in-the-rear helicopter for some truly unfortunate future coaches. I want to read the entire Michael Connelly lexicon of Harry Bosch detective books. And mostly I’m looking forward to finally experiencing fall afternoons outdoors.
“My thank you’s start with my family, especially my sainted daughters Annie and Laura; and the best coaches’ wife of all time, Lyn; Chet Gladchuck and Loretta Lamar for the courage to hire an old man and supporting our wonderful teams so well; Bill Berrier (AD who hired me at Juniata), Kris Clarkson (former Dean and my boss at Juniata) and Tom Kepple (former president at Juniata); all my Navy players; all my Juniata players; assistant coaches at both schools: at Juniata, Priscilla Gibboney, Susan Benusa Yanckello, Sue Barker Hildebrandt, Mark Pavlik, Larissa Weimer Crum, Heather Pavlik, Tom Gibboney, Jodi Burns, Dennis Hohenshelt and Ryan Patton; at Navy, Kait Kozak, Tim Smith, Steph Strauss, Jeremy Sands and Megan Shifflett; and finally, Tom Tait, Mark Pavlik and Russ Rose, my volleyball coaching mentors.
Bock at Navy
Year – All W-L / Patriot League (Pl.)
2011 – 6-23 / 1-13 (Eighth)
2012 – 11-15 / 7-7 (Fifth)
2013 – 13-16 / 9-7 (Fifth)
2014 – 14-12 / 11-5 (Third)
2015 – 9-20 / 7-9 (Sixth)
2016 – 20-9 / 10-6 (Fourth)
2017 – 23-8 / 12-4 (Second)
Most NCAA Volleyball Coaching Victories –– Men’s and/or Women’s (Yrs.)
1. 1,448 – Larry Bock (47)
2. 1,309 – Peggy Martin, current Spring Hill women’s coach (42)
3. 1,283 – Dave Shoji, former Hawai’i women’s & men’s coach (50)
4. 1,246 – Russ Rose, current Penn State women’s coach (39)
5. 1,239 – Al Scates, former UCLA men’s coach (50)
6. 1,212 – Tracy Rietzke, current Rockhurst women’s coach (36)
7. 1,106 – Andy Banachowski, former UCLA women’s coach (40)
8. 1,070 – Rich Luenemann, former Wash.-St. Louis women’s coach (32)
9. 1,040 – Chris Catanach, current Tampa women’s coach (34)
10. 1,021 – Shelton Collier, current Wingate women’s coach (36)
Most NCAA Volleyball Coaching Victories –– Women’s Only (Yrs.)
1. 1,348 – Larry Bock (41)
2. 1,309 – Peggy Martin, current Spring Hill coach (42)
3. 1,246 – Russ Rose, current Penn State coach (39)
4. 1,212 – Tracy Rietzke, current Rockhurst coach (36)
5. 1,202 – Dave Shoji, former Hawai’i coach (42)
6. 1,106 – Andy Banachowski, former UCLA coach (40)
7. 1,070 – Rich Luenemann, former Washington-St. Louis coach (32)
8. 1,040 – Chris Catanach, current Tampa coach (34)
9. 1,021 – Shelton Collier, current Wingate coach (36)
10. 957 – Mick Haley, former USC coach (34)