Loyola Athletics announced the hiring of John Hawks as the new Head Coach of the men’s volleyball team in a press conference May 27.
Director of Athletics Steve Watson announced April 28 that Loyola men’s volleyball head coach Mark Hulse’s contract wouldn’t be renewed after seven years, sparking a nationwide, month-long search for a replacement.
Hawks, the 2022 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) assistant coach of the year, is the fifth head coach in Rambler men’s volleyball history. He joins Loyola’s program after seven years as the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) men’s volleyball assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
“I’m just overwhelmed with this opportunity,” Hawks said. “I’m excited for myself, Loyola volleyball and the opportunity to come lead these young men here.”
During his time at UCLA, he helped lead the program to three NCAA tournaments in 2022, 2018 and 2016, as well as the highest attack percentage — an indicator of the amount of times the team has attempted to attack the ball towards the opponent — in the nation (.374) and a nine-week streak at No. 1 on the AVCA top 15 poll, both in the 2022 season.
In addition to his coaching input on offense, Hawks served as a recruiting coordinator at UCLA, bringing in four of the last top recruiting classes, according to Loyola Athletics.
He was also the head coach for the U.S. men’s volleyball team in the summer of 2019 where he led his country to a silver medal in the NORCECA Continental Championships — a competition between teams in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
Before coaching at UCLA, he spent four years as the director of volleyball at SPIRE Institute in Ohio, a boarding school specialized for student athletes.
Hawks also served as an assistant coach for Long Beach State (2009-2011), University of Southern California (2007-2008) and University of California, Irvine (2003-2006). At UC Irvine, Hawks helped lead the program to its first conference title in 2006 and recruited two incoming classes which later led the team to win two national championships.
Hawks said his attraction to Loyola came from its past success — winning two back-to-back NCAA titles in 2014 and 2015. He added that hearing Watson and Deputy Athletics Director Holly Strauss-O’Brien’s love and excitement for Loyola was another factor that drew him in.
“The expectation is we’re gonna go out there and we’re going to play hard, and we’re gonna have fun and we’re gonna get after it,” Hawks said. “My expectation is, I want to go in there and win championships.”
Making a deep connection with his new team is how Hawks said he hopes to translate success onto the court in the upcoming season. He added if he can build those relationships with the players, their motivation on the court will heighten.
Hawks said his agenda is full in the weeks before coming to Rogers Park, as he has two daughters — Giavanna and Gabriella — who have to finish school in California, along with finding a place to live in Chicago. He said his initial plans with the team include getting to know the players and making connections with them, which he said works with his coaching style.
“It’s a lot all happening at once,” he said. “[I’m] just really grateful and excited to be here.”