USC sand volleyball adds Olympian to staff

When it comes to women’s sand volleyball, there aren’t as many players as legendary as Misty May-Treanor, who served as the volunteer assistant coach for USC’s sand volleyball program last year. This season, she’s staying home to take care of her baby girl, but there’s no need to worry for the program because of its new volunteer assistant coach for this season: two-time Olympian Dain Blanton.

Head coach Anna Collier announced the exciting news for the program.

“Words can’t describe just how fortunate we are to have another gold medalist come aboard,” Collier commented. “We look forward to everything he has to share and teach our team about his experience.”

Blanton definitely knows a thing or two about winning. In the 2000 Sydney Games, he won gold in beach volleyball with partner Eric Fonoimoana. In 2004, he competed in the Athens Games with Jeff Nygaard, current assistant coach for undefeated USC men’s volleyball, making Blanton the first two-time male beach volleyball Olympian for Team USA.

Before his Olympic success, Blanton, as a sophomore, had a key role in Pepperdine’s 1992 NCAA championship; he was also an All-American for the Waves. On the professional beach circuit, he achieved a plethora of accolades. Winning the 1997 AVP Hermosa Grand Slam made him the first male                        African-American to win a major beach volleyball event. He earned a bronze medal with Kent Steffes in the 1997 Beach Volleyball World Championships.

In his successful pro career, Blanton clinched nine AVP crowns (four with Nygaard), two FIVB titles and 11 beach tournaments. In 2003, Blanton captured the title of AVP’s Best Offensive Player and he and Nygaard were crowned the AVP Team of the Year. Only a few other players can say that they’ve obtained as many championships — college, Olympics or professionally — as Blanton. His nearly unmatched success will benefit the Women of Troy immensely.

Off the sand, Blanton also covers beach volleyball, NBA, MLB and college basketball and football as a TV sports broadcaster for networks such as ESPN, NBC, ABC, FOX Sports Net, Universal Sports Network and Pac-12 Networks.

Not only is Blanton “a force to be reckoned with on the court,” but also he is an inspiring motivational speaker and mentor to students through GettingToGold — a nonprofit that he founded. In 1997, he created Dain’s Day at the Beach, a charity that allows urban youth to play beach volleyball.

To say that Blanton is a success would be an understatement. As a coach at USC, he will no doubt share his expertise and methods to achieve success with the team. He will bring his winning mindset and intensify the team’s already victorious Trojan spirit and work ethic.

Compounding the success that USC’s powerhouse program has obtained since its founding in 2012 (third place finishes nationally in 2013 and 2014, two national championship pairs in 2013 and 2014), having Blanton as a coach will continue to grow the program and solidify it as a top program for many years to come.