9 Questions with the One and Only Stormin’ Mike Normand – May 2015

1.) Did you witness the 1968 Manhattan Open final that lasted over 3 hours between Bergman/Rundle and Von Hagen/Lang? It’s been said that match epitomizes the most perfect beach volleyball match ever played. If so, what do you remember about it?

Did not witness the match. I Was helping my “uncle” out of the country.

2.) Do you have a Randy Stoklos story you can share from your time coaching him at Santa Monica College where he did something athletically that just left you shaking your head in disbelief? (His acting roles in the Sideout and Better off Dead films are not acceptable answers here Mike).

A:  Hey, those roles somebody had to do them. But they did make me shake my head.

But to answer your question I’m at a disadvantage watching Randy everyday in practice he pushed himself to be the best he could be, so I saw the daily improvement and skill level. Same Singin Smith, Karch Kiraly, and all the young athletes I coached. It’s like when you own a big dog when it is a pup you play with it and it just keeps growing and then all of a sudden someone says that’s a big dog. You didn’t notice. When I played in the World Championships with Dusty Dvorak, I knew he was a good setter from that other school but when I played with him he was outstanding that left me shaking my head. Guys like Matt Gage, Tim Hovland, the Mike and Ted Dodd did some unbelievable things because I didn’t play in the South Bay to see them play every day. But Ron Lang, Ron Von Hagen, Mike Bright, Dane Selznick and Sinjin Smith I saw daily. They all were outstanding and did many things to make people shake their heads.

3.) Hypothetically speaking, if we had a tournament for the ages, with all players competing in their prime, of every era, competing under old school rules (blocking over allowed), who would you want as your partner and who makes it to the finals and ultimately wins? Who gets knocked out surprisingly early and exposed under old school rules?

A:  I think I’ve answered this question before. The top 6 players from any era would be successful in any era. They all bring in the attitude “I don’t want to win as much as I hate to lose.” They all trained harder than others in their era. The key to being successful is to match up with the ‘right’ partner: preferred side, ability, mental toughness, and conditioning (this is the key difference between old school and today). Who wins? Who gets knocked out early? That is why we play the tourneys.

4.) A number of great players you’ve coached (Carlos Briceno, Randy Stoklos, Kent Steffes) have all had great things to say about your coaching prowess. How would you describe your coaching philosophy and what made you such a respected coach by your players and peers?

A:  Ask my players they might have different opinions, but I believe in some basic precepts:

  1. Treat players with respect believe they want to be better. – Don’t say we have to pass the ball (This is self evident to any player after day one) Tell them how to get into better position to pass.
  2. Never ask or let a player do something in a game they haven’t successfully done in practice. – I let a player practice jump serving in practice after they have proven they can serve the ball into the designated area 9 out of 10 times with the float sever. Then when they can show me they can jump serve into the designated area 9 out of 10 times I will let them jump serve in a game.
  3. I never talk to my team after a game win or lose. -Win or Lose I talk to them the next practice and discuss how we can as individuals and a team can improve.
  4. I never take the game too seriously. I’ve never asked any of my teams to win. I’ve asked them to perform to the best of their abilities. Success is in improvement not wins. Wins will follow if you continue to be successful.

A coach needs to remember you win because you prepared your athletes. You lose because you didn’t prepare them properly.

5.) Who partied harder on tour: Gary Hooper or Craig Freeburg (this was a Chris Brown’s question)?

A:   Great question!  My answer: OB!

6.) You competed on some very talented UCLA Bruin teams for the legendary Al Scates. What did you learn from Coach Scates?

A: When you have power, you have no fear.
An example I was coaching with Al and we were in a tight match. He said we need a side out I suggested a player from my brown squad Buddy Cox he could hit the 3 ball not much else at the time. Al subs him in and he made the side out, we immediately subbed him out and we go on to win the match. The reporters came up to Al after the match and asked about the pivotal substitution. Al said Mike Normand suggest the sub. Two matches later we were again in a tough situation and I suggest a serving specialist that had done well for me. Al made the substitution unfortunately it did not work, and we lost the match. Once again, the reporter asked Al about the pivota subl, he said we made a coaching decision and it didn’t work this time. Al had no fear.

7.) Your UCLA Bruins have had countless talented players come through the program spanning many decades. If you had to put an ALL-TIME team out on the floor from ALL those players, who are your 6 starters and 1 reserve?

A:  I’m not too good at math but here is a try to answer your question: Larry Rundle, Ernie Suwara, Rudy Suwara, Mike O’Hara, Kirk Kilgore, Dane Holtman, Ed Becker, Ed Machado, Larry Griebenow, Dick Irvin, John Zajec, Bob Leonard, Jim Menges, John Bekins, Joe Mica, Dave Olbright, Fred Sturm, Denny Cline, Singin Smith, Steve Salmons, Steve Gulnac, Karch Kiraly, Dave Saunders, Doug Partie, Dave Mochalski, Ricci Luyties, Doug Partie, Wally Martin, Asbjorn (Ozzie) Volstad, Roger Clark, Arne Lamberg, Jeff Williams, Matt Sonnichsen, Mike Sealy, Jeff Nygaard, Kevin Wong, Dan Landry, Erik Sullivan, Paul Nihipali, John Speraw, Stein Metzger, Adam Naeve, Fred Robins, Tom Stillwell and Brandon Taliaferro and myself as the reserve. Hope this answers your question…I was lucky enough to play with most of the guys and coached a lot in juniors and let’s add Randy Stoklos.

8.) You’ve always been and continue to be in phenomenal shape fitness-wise. In fact, you make Owen McKibbin look like a pansy 😉 What has been the key to your success in terms of exercise? Diet? How have you done it?

A:  First off, I don’t think Owen McKibbin looks like a pansy, well maybe when he was playing for that other school…usc. The key to my success is that I was fortunate to be able to train every day with young athletes. I taught school for 38 years and worked out in the morning with the athletes and of course while coaching them after school. I was lucky enough to be able to keep in shape before I headed home to take care of my wife and kids. As for diet I just took a one a day vitamin and ate whatever I wanted to. Weight gain or loss is a simple formula: If you take in 5,000 calories you need to burn off 5,000 calories then your weight will remain the same. For every 3,500 calories above or below you will gain or lose a pound. Match you eating style to your workout style. Maybe another factor is that I never drank alcohol (Harder calories to convert to ATP) or taken any drugs. Plus, I’ve been injury free.

9.) For this last question, I am going to list 2 players and would like for you to share something about each player that was memorable to you about them as a player. For example, a good Chamales story about an absolute bomb hit you witnessed, etc….


We were playing San Diego State at Pauley in the Regional Championship to see who would go to the NCAA’s. The game was tight all the way San Diego had a great team Duncan McFarland, Mike Cote, Chris Marlowe, Milo Bekins and Wayne Gracey. We have a chance to win the match when the ball was dug over the net. Tom Chamales jumped to hit the over set I was thinking two things could happen First he would hit someone and knock them out or it would pop when it hit the floor. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, he hit the ball with a closed fist and the ball took off on an upward trajectory and hit the third section of seats above the mezzanine some 50 feet high and about 50 yards past the end of the court.  I don’t think I could have kicked a ball that far. Everyone was in awe.   San Diego went on to win the match and then the NCAA Tournament. Congratulations to that great San Diego State team.


Mike Bright, Butch May and Ron Von Hagen were the first athletes that didn’t just play volleyball they trained outside of volleyball. Ron Von Hagen was a quiet and well-mannered guy. Except when he would run the Santa Monica Canyon stairs with me. He hated losing we would run the stairs 2 out of 3, if he lost it became 3 out of 5, if I lost it would 5 out of 7. What a competitor. That and his six tea bags in the water jug (to make some kind of tea drink) by the court, he believed if he didn’t drink anything but the tea before the tourney, he would win…It worked out most of the time for him.