Longtime Pepperdine men’s coach Marv Dunphy is known to have his fair share of sayings.

Redshirt senior middle-right side Matt Tarantino and junior setter Joshua Stewart did not hesitate to name their favorite one.

I think were good here.

As one player noted, Dunphy uses this phrase literally all the time. When an individual drill has finished, I think were good here. When the team is finishing up practice, I think were good here. When theyve finished working on a new skill, I think were good here.

Pepperdine’s men’s program has been good for many years with Dunphy at the controls. The 1994 International Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee and coach of the gold-medal-winning 1988 U.S. Men’s Olympic team has directed the Waves to four NCAA titles and has coached a bevy of All-Americans.

But beyond the countless awards and accolades, Dunphy is widely regarded as one of the sport’s all-time great teachers.

He’s one of the best teachers in general Ive ever had, said Tarantino. It’s the way he communicates and influences people. He gets you to buy into what he’s teaching. That ability is impressive and it is what makes him so special. With Marv, there always is something new to learn. He develops you as a volleyball player and more as a person. He teaches you the right way to handle things and holds you to high standards.

Pepperdine assistant coach David Hunt said Dunphy’s approach is consistent whether he’s coaching at Pepperdine, in a USA Volleyball program, or at a youth camp.

He relates to people regardless of age, said Hunt. Marv is a good person first and foremost, who also happens to be a volleyball coach. Marv has the great ability to connect with people and understand them. I was about 20 years old when I started here and now Im about 30, and I credit everything about who I am and who I aspire to be as a good person, good husband, and good father to Marv.

Stewart pointed out that no two players learn alike, and that’s where Dunphy’s coaching acumen really comes into focus. He understands the different ways players need to improve, he said. One player might be more visual and another more physical where you have to go on the court and walk through how you want it done. The other might do better watching video. Marv always finds a way to make players better.

Dunphy, who also played at Pepperdine, thoroughly enjoys the relationship aspect of the job.

The best thing about coaching is I get to choose the people I want to go through life with, he said. Ive mostly been in the right place at the right time with the right people. To me, that’s the really neat part of coaching.

He also enjoys helping his players reach that next level on the court. You have to be in the ballpark with talent, but the good coaches have the ability to make their players feel bulletproof, he said. For me that doesnt happen through fear. Fear, long-term, is not a great motivator. Athletes are the happiest when they are improving, and you always have to help them get to that place. The one quote I always remember is, Individuals never lose the desire to be treated as individuals.

During the early part of his career, the Pepperdine administration allowed Dunphy to do his dissertation on legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden. The closer I got to him and the more I knew him, I knew I was in the presence of greatness, he said. The first couple days I was asking questions and Id be thinking, I have to put this on the wall and put that on the wall. Four or five days later I would have had Wooden wallpaper. Everything the man said could have been on the wall.

One of Dunphy’s takeaways from his time with Wooden had to do with discipline. He would say, Discipline is something you do for someone not to someone, Dunphy said. Never bruise the dignity of the individual being disciplined. How many coaches say that? The best coaches out there are authentic and John Wooden was authentic.

Dunphy, now in his 33rd season at Pepperdine, has no immediate plans to slow down. I dont have a plan, he said. I guess a goal would be to not die on the job. Someday it will be time, but Im still having fun. I love the challenge of producing good players and good teams.

And Pepperdine has one of the best at doing just that.


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