June 14, 2012
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Former San Diego State volleyball coach Rudy Suwara has been selected for induction into the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Hall of Fame. Suwara will be inducted in ceremonies December 13, 2012 at the Jostens Coaches Honors Luncheon, held in conjunction with the 2012 AVCA Annual Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.
As head coach of the SDSU women's team from 1976 through 1991, Suwara compiled a record of 431-204-3 (.678). Including his five seasons as head coach of the Aztec men's team, he recorded 500 victories while heading up the SDSU volleyball program. His women's squads reached the NCAA Tournament in nine of his final 11 seasons. Along the way he coached 23 players to all-conference honors and 12 All-Americans. Three of his athletes (Laurel Brassey, Angela Rock and Liane Sato) went on to play for the U.S. Olympic Team.
As far as the number of people having an incredible impact as a player and coach in the international and collegiate game, Rudy Suwara is near the top. After playing in his first tournament in the Brooklyn YMCA in 1957, he suited up for his first USA Volleyball Nationals in Scranton, Pennsylvania the following year. From that point on he never looked back, building a Hall of Fame career.
Suwara's participation in the USA Volleyball events earned him 11 consecutive years of USA Volleyball All-America honors from 1964 to 1974. During his USA Volleyball career, Suwara competed for several prestigious clubs. He spent tenures with Westside Jewish Community Center, LA Tigers, Los Angeles YMCA, United Sporting Goods, San Diego Chart House, Santa Barbara VBC and Santa Monica Sand & Sea Club. Along the way, his teams won numerous USVBA Open and National Championships.
In international competitions, Suwara contributed heavily to Team USA's success in the 1960s and 1970s. He was a member of the U.S. team that competed in the FIVB World Championship in 1966 and 1970. Suwara played a key role on the U.S. Men's National Team which won the 1967 Pan American Games gold medal. He later went on to compete for the U.S. at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. That team was the first U.S. squad to beat the former Soviet Union. Suwara represented again represented the U.S. at the 1971 Pan American Games.
After his international playing days, Suwara turned to coaching. After a tenure assisting at UCLA, he served as the head men's coach at UC Santa Barbara from 1971 to 1974. During those four years, the Gauchos finished among the top four in the nation on three occasions. In 1974, UC Santa Barbara won the USVBA Collegiate and Open Division National Championships, the only college team to ever win those two titles during the same year.
After UC Santa Barbara, Suwara ventured south to become a player/coach for the San Diego Breakers for the IVA professional volleyball league. His style of play earned him the nickname of the Tasmanian Devil as one of the top players in the league before he took the reins of the men's and women's volleyball programs at San Diego State in 1976.
USA Volleyball has recognized Suwara on many occasions. He earned the All-Time Great Player Award and Medallion of Merit in 1976. Suwara later was presented the George J. Fisher Leader in Volleyball Award in 1994. As part of USA Volleyball's 75th Diamond Celebration in 2003, Suwara was included on the USA Volleyball 75th Anniversary All-Era Team for the 1953 to 1977 time period. Most recently in 2010, USAV presented him with the 2010 James E. Coleman USA National Team Award.