By KAT ANDRUS
It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to win a national championship, and it’s practically impossible to bring someone down from an emotional high, especially a coach.
“Right now I am on cloud nine and I’m not coming down,” coach Carl McGown said after winning the NCAA 1999 volleyball title. “I want to really savor this right now,” he said.
Several factors play a role in the rarity of BYU’s championship, including the history of the tournament.
“UCLA has won 17 times and the bits and pieces left over are for everyone else to share,” McGown said.
Most of the bits and pieces have been shared by schools in California. In 30 years, only two non-California schools have won the championship. BYU took the title this year and Penn State won in 1994 under Tom Peterson, a former Cougar. Peterson played and coached club volleyball at BYU into the transition into the NCAA.
The infrequency of national championships at BYU makes the volleyball victory a rarity. BYU has won only a handful of national championships in the school’s history.
“This doesn’t happen at BYU very often and it makes the probability of BYU winning in any sport very small,” McGown said.
The last BYU national championship was won in 1997 by the cross-country team under Craig Poole, women’s track and cross-country coach. He said the win was a surprise.
Another memorable championship was the Holiday Bowl victory in 1984 that gave BYU’s football team its first-ever national title. Lavell Edwards, coach of the 1984 squad, said national championships are hard to come by.
Great players, great coaches and great fans are what McGown said he had to work with this year, and part of what made the victory so sweet. He said having extraordinary players Ossie Antonetti and Ryan Millar in the same gym at the same time was a rare occurrence.
“Ossie is a unique and special player and we’ve never had a player like him or Millar. It’s as if we were destined to win because of unusual events,” McGown said.