After 22 years with USA volleyball, Gary Moy was done.
At 63, the California director of operations for USA Volleyball figured he had accomplished everything that he needed to in the sport.
“I’ve had an unbelievable run with USA volleyball.” Moy said. “It’s a sport I played and that I enjoyed giving back to. I feel lucky that I’ve been able to experience it from a really wide swath of experiences. And I’m hopeful that our national teams, including beach and sitting teams, moving forward, they’ll find a way to continue success for them.
“After 22 years — and those were 22 pretty good years — I made the decision that was time for me to move on and do something else.”
Moy gave his notice in January that he would move on. We spoke with him on his last day in late June, when in classic Gary Moy hyper-organized fashion, he had completed all of his projects and had largely cleared out his desk except for one final box.
Moy handled the administrative and management side for both the men’s and the women’s indoor national teams. In more than two decades his time at USA volleyball history was divided into five blocks, broken up by stretches at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, Mizuno, Cartan (an Olympic ticket reseller) and Pepperdine University.
This latest block? Nine years, Moy said.
“My resignation wasn’t a result of anything bad, obviously. We have no idea COVID was coming,” Moy said. “If you look at my history, I’ve never stayed with USA Volleyball for more than four to six years. So this last span of nine years was very long for me. And that’s just kind of the way it operates. I do something, I do it passionately. And then when I feel I’ve finished, I move on. Because there are more adventures out there.”
Moy, who lives in Irvine, has attended 13 Olympic games, seven summer and six winter.
“In volleyball, I was a player. I was a referee. I was a coach way, way back under USA Volleyball, 9-man volleyball, grass volleyball,” Moy said. “So I felt my volleyball card is pretty full. I’ve been to three Olympics with USA volleyball as an employee in 1988, 2012 and 2016.
“I don’t think I could do much more than that in volleyball. The plan is I’m actually looking outside of volleyball and outside of sports. Not that I don’t like sports, but I spent most of my life inside it. And I want to try something new outside.”
He has a plan.
“Well, immediately, and I’ve shared this with (USA Volleyball CEO) Jamie Davis and others, I’d like to look in the small to medium non-profit area,” Moy said. “Again it does not have to be sport, but I still want to be able to work and also, I liked the part of work where I can enjoy a lot of intrinsic rewards, not necessarily about the money, the benefits, but, what am I doing to make a difference?
“I’m passionate about work in the areas of diversity and inclusion, social justice and civic service.”
In every organization, there are dreamers and planners. Moy is a planner, the person who takes a dreamer’s concept and executes it. If Karch Kiraly wanted to have a red-blue scrimmage to build grass-roots support and evaluate his squad in a competitive situation? Moy found the venue, got the sponsors, made it happen.
When the Rio Olympic village was too far from the competition venues in 2016? Moy operated a USA Volleyball “satellite village” at a hotel close to the volleyball arena and a way to get the athletes in and out of the opening ceremony through one of the most secure events in the world, coordinating plans A, B, and C with the U.S. State Department and Olympic security. And he did it so well that the athletes were able to walk in the opening ceremonies with the USA contingent and be back in their hotel by the time Turkey marched out.
The mark of an excellent administrator is that things get done, events run smoothly, and feathers aren’t ruffled. Perhaps not as exciting as throwing down 35 kills, but administrative success is an important part of every organization.
Marv Dunphy, the 1988 USA gold-medal and longtime Pepperdine men’s coach, doesn’t believe that Moy will be able to quit volleyball.
“I think that volleyball’s just in his DNA. He’s not going to ever be too far away from volleyball because people like me will be calling him and knocking on his door,” Dunphy said.
“He got us with Mizuno in the mid-80s. Now apparel companies is a big thing, but then it was a little bit hit and miss and he got us with ASICS. I think he was a big part of our back-to-back (Olympic medals in 1984 and ‘88) because he got us organized.”
Dunphy worked closely with Moy for decades at both Pepperdine and USA Volleyball, even finding two-thirds of a scholarship for Moy to serve as team manager. The scholarship was key for Moy, the youngest son of seven, who simply couldn’t afford Pepperdine tuition otherwise.
“He can carry a really big load. He’s organized and he doesn’t get emotional about things, he just gets things done,” Dunphy said.
“He’s got a little KGB in him. We were in Japan the night before we went to the Olympic Games in ’88 in Korea, and he gives me this little cassette player. He said, ‘Hey Marv, you might want to play this.’ Well, it was every family member and every close friend that I’ve ever known was wishing me well, and half of them were very, very emotional, and boy, it was just awesome. And you know that that’s just the kind of touch that Gary had.”
And, Dunphy added, “He’s been instrumental in my life helping me with everything. And if I start gushing, I’m not going to apologize because anything that I share is exactly how I feel about him. I can’t tell you how much I respect what he’s done for our sport and my family.”
Doug Beal, who coached the gold-medal-winning team in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and is the former CEO of USA Volleyball, considered Moy as one of the organization’s biggest assets.
“I’m sad that he’s leaving USA Volleyball because I think his value is significant,” Beal said. “I keep thinking of him as a lifer both with USA Volleyball and the sport. I’m not sure where USA Volleyball would have been without Gary. He’s filled so many different roles and was always able to say yes, I’ll do that. I can hardly recall anything that he either didn’t want to tackle or couldn’t tackle.
“He’s one of the most thoughtful staff we’ve ever had. He would always present sound rationale for decisions and processes that we ought to put in place. He was incredibly sensitive to the player’s needs and helped us provide the resources that allowed us to be good.
“It just seems like he’s always been there and been available and a part of good things that happened with USA Volleyball.
One of Moy’s fondest memories was when the men won gold at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
“I have been really lucky to have this long history with Karch from both a player and coach perspective. He was a player on that 1988 team. When we won that gold medal in Seoul, he jumped over a bench and gave me a big hug and said, ‘Thank you for everything.’ ”
Kiraly, now the USA women’s coach, has fond memories the guy affectionately known as the “Moy-Man,” a nickname given to him by national team member Dave Olbright around 1980.
“I first got to know him during the time that Marv Dunphy coached our men’s team in 1985 to 1988, Gary has been our team manager and a jack-of-all-trades. He was amazing in terms of how much he got done behind the scenes,” Kiraly said.
“I don’t think I really understood how much he got done until I became a coach. It takes a ton, an ungodly amount of time and effort, that athletes really don’t know about in terms of something like planning a trip to go somewhere. The passports, the visas, and the flights, the hotel reservations, the this, and the that, and putting these things on the checklist.
“Those things very often went smoothly, and it’s because of all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. Gary drove a bunch of that. He’s been around on the administration side for a long time.”
Kiraly recalls one instance of Moy’s commitment to the team, editing video footage to better understand what the USA’s competitors were doing.
“In the 1980s, Jim Coleman, Gary Sato and Moy changed how we watched film. Marv might say, ‘I need tape on the Cubans. I need to look at their serve-receive. First, I want you to give me all of their rotation one, and then I want all of their rotation two, and all of the other rotations.’
“What did that entail in that non-digital time? First of all, we had to have VHS tapes of a Cuban match, and then have a second VHS machine with a blank tape on it. It was an eight-hour process. First the person would go through the whole Cuban match, and mark the time position of every rotation one, two, three, four, and five, six, it might be two-and-a-half, three hours just to catalog the tape.
“Then they would rewind the tape, go to the first instance where there was a rotation one, pause that tape, cue up the other tape deck, hit record, play that rotation one, hit pause, and then fast forward to the next rotation one, and then the next, and the next, and the next. And then they would repeat that for rotations two, three, four, five, and six.
“Now that things are digital, these things are almost instantaneous, but in those days it took eight hours to slice and dice based on various characteristics. It was a thankless job and a really difficult one, and it’s just one example of how much more difficult things are in a non-digital age, a non-internet age, a non-email age, a non-cell phone age, almost a non-fax age.
“It’s amazing what he got done without computers, but with old-school dial-up phone service.”
And now that Moy is gone from USA Volleyball?
“I’ll miss his easy-going manner and his smile,” Kiraly said. “He just liked to be around volleyball like the rest of us. He loved the game, it’s great to be around people that love the game.”