Hunt hits ground running after replacing Pepperdine legend Dunphy

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David Hunt, left, with former Pepperdine standout Kim Hill and his old boss, Marv Dunphy

New Pepperdine men’s coach David Hunt’s coaching education is one that most would envy.

Before being promoted to the Wave’s top position earlier this month in the wake of coaching-legend Marv Dunphy’s retirement, Hunt had been an assistant in the program in varying capacities for Dunphy over the last decade.

Intertwined in that time was a stint as an assistant with the USA women’s national team under sport great Karch Kiraly. He also had two head-coaching stints while with the national team, one leading the 2014 team at the NORCECA World Championship qualifier and in 2015 when he coached Team USA at the Pan-American Cup in Peru.

In 2013 and 2014, Hunt was an assistant coach with the Japanese men’s national team under head coach Gary Sato.

Now, Hunt takes over the reins of one of the most well-known and successful men’s programs in the country, replacing one of the icons of the sport.

David Hunt

“Oh man, I don’t know if this all has hit me yet,” Hunt said. “It’s very emotional. It’s a mixed bag of emotions.

“I’d have been Marv’s assistant for the next 30 years. I was ready to do that and then he retired. There is a lot of excitement that comes with this job and there also is a lot of pressure because Marv set the bar so high. Marv is not a normal coach. Look at all the great things he’s done. It’s a good pressure. This is cool but I know it’s a tall task because of what has been done here before.”

Hunt said he would not be in the position he is in without Dunphy.

“Everything I learned about volleyball came from him,” he said. “Marv’s a pro and taught me so much.”

Hunt, who played in high school at Sherman Oaks (Calif.) and in club for Santa Monica Beach Club, played two years at Los Angeles Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif. He graduated from UCLA with a degree in history.

“I was never very good as a player so I got into coaching really quick,” Hunt said with a laugh. “A lot of people tried to get me better as a player and it never worked. I’m thankful that I played for a lot of good coaches, including Tom Black when I was a club player. I got to coach with Tom on the national team. I was introduced to some high-level volleyball at a young age and that sparked an interest and a desire to get into coaching someday.”

Since 2007, Hunt held positions at Pepperdine ranging from student manager, video coordinator and volunteer assistant before being elevated assistant coach in 2010 and associate head coach in 2014.

“Everything I’ve learned about the sport is because of (Dunphy). Having the opportunity to become a world-class coach and go the Olympics (with the U.S. women in 2016) is because of that man and the Pepperdine program.

“Usually guys work their way up to be assistants and have big success other places. I’ve been on a unique journey and I’ve found a great fit at Pepperdine because of it. Everything came from Marv.”

Hunt has a separate reason aside from volleyball to be excited about his new position.

“It’s a great place,” he said. “Every time I would go away, whether it was with the U.S. team or something else, someone would talk to me about Pepp and it would remind me how great the people are there. The people make the university special.

“It’s not because it’s in Malibu or because the campus is by the ocean. It’s the people who make it the great place it is. Where else are you going to find a place where the president of the university has the men’s team over for a sleep over and cooks them breakfast in the morning? Things like that are what make it such a special place.”

When he talked to VolleyballMag.com last week, Hunt had not yet been back on Pepperdine’s campus since the announcement. He’s been hot on the recruiting trail and also has been coaching a USA Volleyball High Performance boys’ Southern California region team in Florida.

“It’s very humbling coaching these guys,” said Hunt of his HP squad. “This is a game where a lot of lessons are taught. These guys aren’t in college yet where their ID already is formed. The way they implement these types of lessons will shape how they are as competitors down the road.”

Hunt, who holds a master’s degree in coaching and athletic administration from Concordia-Irvine, said on his many-things-to-do list at Pepperdine is hiring a new assistant coach.

“I’m taking it one day at a time,” he said. “I’ve been recruiting hard so that’s on the immediate list of things. It’s all about time management. We’ll have a plan in place on how to best develop the team. What we do today affects tomorrow. We’re going to take a look at where we are at and we’re going to continue to get better.”

Pepperdine, which won five NCAA titles under Dunphy’s direction, is coming off a 2017 season where it went 10-12 overall, 8-10 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play, losing in the quarterfinals of the league tournament.

Pepperdine’s incoming freshmen class is ranked No. 8 by VolleyballMag.com and features three VolleyballMag.com Boys Fab 50 selections in Alex Gettinger (6-4, OH, HP St. Louis), Zac Norvid (6-0, libero, Sports Performance) and Spencer Wickens (5-11, libero, Pace Bootlegger).

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