As his players shook hands following a sweep of IPFW on Friday, Ohio State men’s volleyball coach Pete Hanson had claimed the 603rd win of his career.
Hanson, who has coached the Buckeyes for 30 years, holds a career record of 603-324. Hanson and the No. 11 Buckeyes have passed several milestones this season, including the program’s 1,000th overall win and its 500th victory at St. John Arena. Hanson’s OSU career spans 18 20-plus win seasons, 10 national semifinal appearances, a runner-up finish and one national championship.
Before beginning his illustrious coaching career, Hanson played volleyball at the collegiate level at Kellogg Community College in Michigan then spent his last two years at Ball State University, up until 1979. Upon graduation, Hanson took his first position as an assistant coach for Ball State men’s volleyball team.
He then spent time as a women’s assistant and head coach with Wyoming before joining the Buckeyes’ men’s program in 1985.
“I just felt like it would be a great way to give back and to help continue to grow men’s volleyball, and so it kind of led me here and I have been here for 30 years,” Hanson said.
Hanson said he thinks the most passionate aspect of his job is watching young players succeed.
“The thing that keeps me coming in every day and keeps me looking forward to next year is to bring in a young man and to convince him that Ohio State would be a great place for him to go to school, to get his education, to play volleyball, and then to help him through that journey,” Hanson said. “At the end of the day when they walk out of here with a degree in hand, and maybe they’ve already got a job lined up, that’s the really cool part. To think that myself, my two coaches and Ohio State had a part in that is a really, really neat feeling.”
While the Buckeyes finished last season with a losing record for the first time since 1992, Hanson’s squad has started fresh in 2015 with an 11-3 overall record and a 5-1 mark in conference play.
The ultimate goal he sets for his team is the same on the yearly basis: winning the national championship.
“I think the long-term goal is to try to do the necessary things that are going to allow our team to compete for an elite championship and hopefully a national championship,” Hanson said. “Even though we’ve got this goal and 99.9 percent of the time we’re not going to reach it, it certainly is a goal worth having.”
Hanson learned what it takes to make a championship run before he even joined the Division I volleyball ranks.
“My senior year (at Ball State) we won the MIVA championship and qualified to go to the NCAA national championships,” Hanson said. “Just having successes along the way which is what we’re trying to do here with our guys, I was able to experience that and those are memories that I’ll have for a lifetime.”
As he hunts for a second title as a coach, Hanson said he is grateful for his wife and two sons, ages 20 and 18, who have been supportive of his career.
“There are times when you miss some of the kids’ activities and you’re not there at all the right times that you’d like to be,” Hanson said. “I think the big thing was that my wife and the two boys understood and they dealt with it as positively as they could.”
Off of the court, Hanson enjoys playing golf in addition to spending time on the water.
“Here in the past five to seven years, I’ve become really enamored with fly fishing,” Hanson said. “For the last six or seven summers, my wife and I go to Wyoming to visit one of her brothers, and he got me turned onto fly fishing in the backcountry. It is just the most relaxing and just a time that I can’t put a price on.”
Hanson will have to put his next fishing trip on hold as the Buckeyes get set to take on Grand Canyon on Saturday and Sunday in Phoenix.