USC tabs Dain Blanton as next beach volleyball coach

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Dain Blanton, right, coaching Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes while all three were at USC in 2017/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

By USC sports information

Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Dain Blanton, who was on the coaching staff of USC’s three national championship beach volleyball teams, has been named head coach of the Women of Troy, USC athletic director Lynn Swann announced on Friday, July 26.

“We are delighted to have Dain Blanton back with our women’s volleyball program and this time in a leadership role as the head coach,” said Swann. “He was vitally involved in all three of our national championships and we believe that he has the experience, knowledge, ability, and confidence to maintain our program at a championship level. He not only is an excellent teacher of the sport and in-game strategist, but he is charismatic and has strong communication skills. Most importantly, he truly cares about developing each student-athlete as a whole person and providing them with a well-rounded collegiate experience.”

Said Blanton: “This is an amazing opportunity to lead the USC women’s beach volleyball program and I thank the administration for the faith they have in me. During my four years as an assistant here, I saw how this program stood for excellence and success and I saw the support we received from the Trojan Family. I felt that we could do something special here and we did, we won a lot. That experience inspired my goal of becoming a head coach and, if I could do so, to be the head coach some day at USC. With my background as a player and coach, and my time at USC, I think this is a perfect fit. I look forward to continuing the championship tradition of the USC women’s beach volleyball program.”

Blanton replaces two-time National Coach of the Year Anna Collier, who retired from collegiate coaching in June after serving as the only head coach in the program’s eight-year history.

Blanton was a volunteer assistant coach at USC for four seasons (2015-18) as the Women of Troy won the 2015 AVCA national crown and the 2016 and 2017 NCAA championships. USC also captured back-to-back (2016-17) Pac-12 titles.

Blanton helped USC produce eight AVCA All-Americans and had a hand in coaching USC’s top pair of Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes to the 2015 AVCA Pairs National Championship and the 2017 USAV Collegiate National Pairs Championship (the duo also won Pac-12 pairs titles in 2016 and 2017).

During the 2019 season, Blanton served as a color analyst and sideline reporter for ESPN, covering the NCAA beach championship, and the Olympic Channel, covering the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship.

He has had a distinguished career as a sports broadcaster, covering sports such as NBA basketball and Major League Baseball, college basketball, football, and beach volleyball for networks including ESPN, NBC, ABC, FOX Sports Net, Universal Sports Network, Pac-12 Networks, Olympic Channel and Amazon Prime. He covered beach volleyball for NBC at the 2016 Olympics.

Blanton was the United States’ first two-time male beach volleyball Olympian. He and partner Eric Fonoimoana (USC’s volunteer assistant coach in 2019) captured the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Games despite being the ninth seed. He then partnered with current USC men’s volleyball head coach Jeff Nygaard at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Blanton is among just a handful of beach volleyball players to have won an NCAA title in college, an Olympic gold medal, and multiple professional crowns. He was a 1994 AVCA All-American honorable mention choice at Pepperdine, lettering for four years (1991-94) and helping the Waves win the 1992 NCAA indoor title as a sophomore. As a pro, Blanton won 11 beach tournaments, including nine AVP championships (four with Nygaard) and two FIVB titles, and collected more than $725,000 in winnings.

In 2003, Blanton and Nygaard were the AVP Team of the Year and Blanton was the AVP’s Best Offensive Player. He became the first male African-American to win a major beach volleyball event when he claimed the 1997 AVP Hermosa Grand Slam. He and Kent Steffes won a bronze medal at the 1997 Beach Volleyball World Championships.

Blanton was the 1990 Orange County Boys Volleyball Player of the Year at Laguna Beach (Calif.) High, where he was also an All-State basketball player.

Blanton has spent time mentoring students and as a motivational speaker through his non-profit organization Getting to Gold. He also founded a charity in 1997 called “Dain’s Day at the Beach,” which provides urban youth with the opportunity to participate in beach volleyball.

Blanton graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Pepperdine in 1994 and also holds a teaching credential in physical education.

He was born on Nov. 28, 1971. Blanton and Maeve McCaffrey reside in Santa Monica, Calif., with their one-year-old son, Caid Quentin.

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