Two people named Jon Stanley were in the Moanalua gym Wednesday night — one a former Olympic volleyball standout and the other, his son, a budding high school player.
The elder Jon Stanley is the Kaiser head coach, and the younger is a junior team leader for the Cougars and the third of a pretty potent volleyball trio of Stanley sons.
First came Clay Stanley, now 39, a highly decorated opposite for the University of Hawaii who played in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics and was part of the ’08 gold-medal team at Beijing before going on to play professionally in Europe and Asia.
Then came Wil Stanley, a setter now playing for BYU who also played outside hitter at Punahou, where he was named the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s player of the year in 2016.
And now there’s young Jon. Is the Kaiser outside hitter on the college path?
“This is the year that they do the recruiting,” coach Stanley said. “He’ll know more in the summer and junior nationals. Anybody that recruits is gonna have him on the list and then they filter that out as far as positioning and how well he does next year.”
Asked if any of the three were more difficult than the others, the coach said, “They’re all good kids,” before adding — with a smile — that Jon can be hard to coach sometimes.
“He can’t hear me half the time, but he probably knows more than the other two did at his age,” said the coach, who played collegiately at BYU, is a member of the International Volleyball Hall of Fame and the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame, and was an outside hitter on the 1968 and 1972 U.S. Olympic teams.
The younger Stanley didn’t completely deny it.
“It can be difficult for him teaching me because I know him on such a personal level and we’re family and I sometimes talk back in practice — so that’s probably my big issue. We have these little arguments of where to play or where should I be on defense, things like that, the little things.”
Asked to compare Jon to the other two, coach Stanley said, “They play different positions. Wil’s a setter. Clay is an opposite and Jon is a left-side guy. He’s probably faster and better on defense than the other guys. Some fundamental things he’s better at. At 6-foot-4, he’s not as big as Clay, who is 6-9. They all did well in school and everybody likes them.”
The younger Jon Stanley looks up to his brothers.
“They’re really good players,” he said. “I learned to be aggressive and always be swinging from them; that (when you don’t have the open court to swing at), you can swing at the block because there’s always a chance you can tool them so you can get the point. Oh, and always communicating with your team — that’s another big one I learned from them; make sure that everyone is in the right position and rely on them.”
As for playing in college, Stanley said, “I hope so. I want to. It’s been a dream of mine and would be really cool.”
Coach Stanley’s biggest volleyball memory was beating the top-ranked Soviet Union team at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
“The first match we played the Russian team, the defending gold-medal guys, the world champions,” he said. “We ended up winning, but then we ended up with three starters out with injuries and sickness and we kind of struggled and finished in the middle (of the pack).”