Ohio State volleyball coach Jim Stone will retire following the 2007 season after 26 years

Looking back on his career as head coach of the Ohio State women’s volleyball team, Jim Stone has experienced several changes to the sport that has helped make up most of his life. Some of those changes, such as attendance and method of travel, have been good for the sport, but changes in the recruiting process have not. On July 31, 2008, Stone will officially retire from coaching after 26 years, which will undoubtedly give Buckeye volleyball its most significant change yet.

When he first arrived to Columbus in 1982, volleyball was beginning its first official season under the NCAA umbrella, one year prior to the Big Ten sponsoring the sport. The program at Ohio State was yet to be fully funded and the team practiced and competed in a nearby recreational gym, often booted from the court for an intramural basketball game. Men’s and women’s sports were not viewed equally then, and perhaps they still aren’t. But with the help of Title IX legislation and an increase in participation, women’s sports started to gain support from not only athletics administrators but from the community as well.

“Mindsets were changing,” said Stone. “Sometimes you would see the addition of a scholarship, or more equipment, or even more time on the practice court. Ohio State moved us to St. John Arena early on, where they had control over practice times and availability.”

The overall growth of women’s sports and volleyball in particular is what Stone points to as one of the great changes he has experienced over the last quarter-century. He admits that life is much easier now hopping on a charter plane and flying to matches across Big Ten country, rather than piling 15 players and coaches into vans as they did in the early years. Stone is quick to point out the influx in attendance figures and how much better the game is played in front of the average 3,000 to 5,000 fans in conference play compared to the 50-75 diehards that used to attend the matches in the 1980s.

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