A Winning Philosophy

Coach Stew McDole with five girls from the women's volleyball team standing on the Closson Gym center court

LEFT TO RIGHT Women's volleyball student-athletes Kacie Miyama, Rachel Chavez, Hannah Farley, Caitlin Buchholz and Megan Kneib surround Coach McDole on the Yellowjackets court in Closson Center.

2018 was a big year for Women’s Volleyball Head Coach STEW McDOLE ’65 — the latest of many, many big years in his 37 seasons coaching the Yellowjackets — and his accomplishments and accolades shine a light on the impact he has had on the volleyball world.

 Most recently, McDole was presented the Outstanding Service Award at the NAIA women's volleyball national championship in December, and during fall 2019, he was recognized for his dedication and service by American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) professional staff members in their publication on community engagement.

McDole chaired the 2018 NAIA National Volleyball Tournament Committee. He is the women’s volleyball chair of the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart), chair of the Heart Women’s Volleyball Rating Committee, the national awards chair for NAIA Women’s Volleyball and the NAIA representative on the AVCA awards committee.

All of these assignments and responsibilities underscore his long history of dedication and success. A 1965 Graceland graduate, McDole completed both a master’s and doctorate degree in leisure studies at Indiana University-Bloomington. During the summers while he worked on his degrees, he worked for Graceland’s sponsoring church, now Community of Christ, and ran “the campus,” where the Temple is now located.

As a boy, McDole had discovered a love for volleyball. He learned by watching and began playing as soon as he had the opportunity. In his role with the church, then, he combined his love for the sport with church members’ desire to come together as an engaged community. 

He increased the number of courts at the campus and started an end-of-summer tournament that would evolve to become the annual Community of Christ youth summer camp, Spectacular.

McDole eventually returned to “the Hill” as an employee in 1982 where he has served in many roles: faculty, coach and administration. He has been head women's volleyball coach since the beginning and has experienced tremendous success and received many honors that substantiate his dedication to his passion.

McDole has coached numerous All-Americans and academic All-Americans, and it's easy to see why he continues to be named Heart Coach of the Year when you combine his personal success with the success of his players.

Graceland women’s volleyball student-athletes learn and grow in other ways as well — in and out of the classroom and on and off the court. Under McDole’s leadership, they become productive and caring citizens, and if you ask him what’s most important to both him and his players, he would say “the relationships.” Because, for McDole, it’s not just about volleyball.

“If we were to ask kid after kid on the team, ‘What’s your top priority?’ what I would expect to hear is academics or family,” he shared. “If I ask what their second priority is, I would expect to hear academics or family. If I asked them about their third priority, I would hope that volleyball would start to get in there. And some other people might say ‘they’re not serious players.’ Well, that’s not it — they’re serious players who have their priorities well-adjusted.”

McDole believes his faculty status gives him a perspective that has led to his success in shaping successful volleyball players and world citizens. He also recognizes he is one of a dying breed — a faculty member who coaches a varsity sport. But Graceland and Stew McDole aren’t quite ready to part ways. “People ask me, ‘When are you going to retire?’” he said. “Well, I could have already, obviously — but I still like it. I like what I do. And right now, I don’t see anything that would be more fun.”


THE NUMBERS

36 

out of 37 seasons McDole has guided the Yellowjackets to the Heart postseason tournament

TWELVE 

times McDole has been named Heart Coach of the Year

944-528 

overall coaching record held by McDole

NINETEEN 

regular preseason or postseason Heart titles won by McDole's teams

#1 IN THE NATION 

with 15 WVB student-athletes named 2018 Daktronics NAIA Scholar-Athletes

SEVENTH 

consecutive year (2018) the WVB team earned AVCA Team Academic Award

3.697 

team GPA, among the top 10 in the NAIA, earning the AVCA Team Academic Honor