Gary Sato Named Coach of Japan Men's Volleyball Team

Japanese American Gary Sato has been named head coach of Japan’s national men’s volleyball team, the Japan Volleyball Association (JVA) announced Monday.

Sato, 58, will succeed Tatsuya Ueta whose team failed to secure a berth for the 2012 London Games.

“We have to forget the glory of the past and start over fresh,” said JVA president Taizaburo Nakano. “I think that a foreigner who can look at Japan in an objective way will be able to courageously execute a new strategy.”

Sato, a Japanese American, will be the first foreign coach for Japan’s men’s or women’s volleyball teams. The terms of his contract hadn’t been finalized at the time of the announcement.

Sato has served as an assistant coach for the US Men’s National Volleyball team since 1984. As head coach for the 1985 FIVB World Cup in Japan, he led the US team to the gold medal and was voted the tournament’s Most Valuable Coach.

With Sato as assistant coach the US men’s team also won the 1986 World Championship and the 1987 Pan American Games. His bother Eric was one of the players on the US team when Sato helped lead it to the gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. In 1992 he returned to serve as assistant coach for the team that won the bronze medal at the Barcelona Olympics.

Sato rejoined the team as assistant coach again in 2009 and helped lead it to a silver medal at the 2012 FIVB World League. At the 2012 London Olympics the US men advanced to the quarterfinals where they lost to Italy to finish tied for fifth.

Sato was also the head coach for the US beach volleyball team at the 2007 Pan American Games.

Sato was an All-American outside hitter at UC Santa Barbara. He began his volleyballs career at Santa Monica High School and Santa Monica City College.

Sato comes from a legendary volleyball family. In addition to brother Eric who won the Olympic gold medal in 1988 and a bronze in 1992, sister Liane won the Olympic bronze with the US Women in 1992. She also played on the 1988 Olympic team. Brothers Scott and Glenn played, respectively, for San Diego State and Loyola Marymount.

While Sato is known for his volleyball coaching, he has earned a living primarily as a professional chiropractor. He has three children.