The International Volleyball Hall of Fame inducts its 2022 class on Saturday. We are profiling all six inductees, including this feature on Bernardinho. You can watch the ceremonies in Holyoke, Massachusetts, live at 7 p.m. Eastern. Get all the information at

In the world of volleyball, a landscape shaped by Brazilian greats, there is one name that stands at the top of the mountain. Bernardinho. A player, a coach, a legend.

Born Bernardo Rocha de Rezende in Rio de Janeiro in 1959, Bernardinho rose through the ranks of Brazilian volleyball as a player, representing his home country on the court for many years in international competitions. With a nickname that means “little Bernardo”, the quality and impact of his game rose above his size in a sport dominated by giants. He competed in two Olympics as a player, earning silver at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Those accomplishments alone are more than most volleyball players will ever earn. But it was when he switched from the court to the bench where he made his mark.

Rezende, who owns a degree in economics, used the rigors of that background to bring strategy and discipline to the volleyball world.

He represented his home country as the technical coordinator in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and then went overseas to take the helm of the women’s team Perugia and then the men’s team Modena in Italy, before returning home to take over the Brazilian Women’s National Team in 1990. In his first year with the squad, the team took second at the FIVB World Championships and won the FIVB World Grand Prix, which featured fellow 2022 International Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee Fernanda Venturini at setter.

Bernardinho coaching Brazil

Rezende didn’t just have an impact on his own country, but the countries and individuals his teams competed against as well.

“Bernardinho is one of the greatest volleyball coaches of all time,” said former USA Women’s coach Terry Liskevych. “He coached the Brazillian women to world prominence and his record with the men is unsurpassed.”

One event that stood out for Liskevych was the 1995 World Grand Prix in China where the two countries met after a grueling and lengthy tournament where the final four teams met for a round-robin. USA and Brazil both entered the finals at 2-0 after beating Cuba and China. The USA ended up beating Brazil 3-2, 17-15 in the fifth set, to win its first World Grand Prix title.

“That was a thrilling match that went back and forth and is a lasting memory for me,” said Liskevych.

Following a bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Rezende’s team continued to collect medals in various international competitions. After leading the Brazilian women’s squad to a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, he switched from the women’s side of the sport to the men’s side, to help revive a program that finished sixth at the 2000 Olympics.

The switch proved to be successful, as the Brazilian men’s team captured gold medals in two major international competitions in his first season as head coach in 2001. The squad continued its winning ways, picking up more titles in the FIVB World Championships, FIVB World League, FIVB World Cup and many more. In July 2004, Brazil claimed its fourth FIVB World League title and just a month later, captured the 2004 Olympic Gold in Athens. But he wasn’t done.

During the 2005 season, Bernardinho’s Brazilian men’s team captured four international gold medals, and this success continued for several years. Despite a silver medal finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Brazil bounced back to capture three gold medals. The 2010 season saw Berhardinho’s team make history, winning a record ninth FIVB World League title, overcoming a mark previously set by Italy.

The dominance continued, with a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games and a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in front of a raucous home Brazilian crowd as the team swept Italy for the win. At those Games, Rezende was a main attraction off the court, often being stopped by fans and other athletes for photos.

The sheer volume of success that Bernardino has had is astounding. His teams have captured more than 30 major titles, and with 48 team championships, he is considered the most successful team sport coach of all time.

“He is a great tactician,” said Liskevych. “He is the epitome of Brazilian passion and energy while coaching. A gentleman, highly intelligent and a keen observer of people off the court. Bernardino has left an indelible mark on the sport by coaching at the highest levels for almost three decades!”

Previously: Italian great Samuele PapiBrazilian star Fernanda Venturini, Dutch icon Peter Murphy, Paravolley’s Pieter Joon.


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