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Owusu Steps Down; Olson To Serve As Interim Head Coach

Oct 27, 2020

After having triplets this spring, beach volleyball head coach Meagan Owusu is stepping down from her post to spend more time with her family. Associate head coach Derek Olson will serve as the interim head coach for the 2020-21 school year.
Cal will conduct a national search for permanent head coach of the beach volleyball program at the conclusion of the 2021 season.
Owusu missed the entirety of the 2020 season while on maternity leave. Alongside her husband, Ernest, a Cal alum and former member of the Cal football team, Owusu gave birth to triplets on March 28.
"It was a very difficult decision to step away, but ultimately it was the best decision for me and my family," Owusu said. "In addition to taking care of my three babies at home, it is equally important that I take care of my first baby which is the beach volleyball program. I want to thank all of the staff that I have worked with, as well as [Director of Athletics] Jim Knowlton, [Associate Athletic Director] Gordon Bayne and the entire Cal athletic department for supporting beach volleyball. I plan to continue coaching in some capacity, but I know the program will be in great hands moving forward. 
"Cal has been a home to me for over 10 years, both as a student-athlete and as a coach. I will always be grateful for being part of this family, and I look forward to supporting the Bears in the years to come. I am so proud of everything we have been able to accomplish. Looking back on my first year, I was a volunteer coach, and we barely had enough student-athletes to field a team. Now, we are a top-10 program due to the dedication and work of all of the student-athletes who have come through the program. I am thankful for my student-athletes for believing in me and believing in this program. I can't wait to see what they accomplish next."
Owusu, a Cal alum who is one of only two players ever to play in two NCAA Final Fours for the Bears' indoor team, returned to Cal as an associate head coach in 2015 and was elevated to head coach the following season while Rich Feller was named Director of Volleyball.
Owusu was the first full-time coach in the history of the beach volleyball program, which started in 2014. The program improved dramatically throughout her tenure, concluding with three straight top-12 finishes in the AVCA Final Coaches Poll. Overall, Owusu has a record of 76-40 across her four seasons as the head coach, not including the season where she ran the day-to-day operations (2015) or the season on maternity leave (2020).
Cal recorded 15 wins over ranked opponents across the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and the Bears collected back-to-back third-place finishes in the Pac-12. During her tenure, Cal had four All-American nods and five members of the All-Pac-12 team, and Jordan Polo collected the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year award in 2019.
"Megan has been a dedicated student, alum and coach throughout her time at Cal, and we wish her all the best as she steps down to spend more time with her family," Knowlton said. "She took a fledgling beach volleyball program and brought it into the nation's elite. We could not be more proud of the work she's done, and Meagan will always be part of the Cal family."
In April of 2018, Owusu received the prestigious "Thirty Under 30" Award by the AVCA, which recognizes 30 up-and-coming coaching talents under the age of 30 across the country. In January of 2020, Owusu was named as an Under 40 Coaching Hotshot by Volleyball Magazine. 
Owusu has also established a cultural of excellence in the classroom, having produced 42 Pac-12 All-Academic selections, including four first-team picks. The Bears have also won the Newmark Award three times for having the highest cumulative GPA among small-team women's sports at Cal.
As a student-athlete, Owusu, formerly Meagan Schmitt, was a two-time Pac-12 All-Academic selection during her tenure as a defensive specialist for the Bears. She was a team captain in 2010 and helped Cal make Final Four appearances in 2007 and 2010. She also helped guide the Golden Bears to a pair of NCAA Elite Eight berths.
Taking over for the 2021 season will be a familiar face as Olson has been an instrumental part of the Cal beach program over the past three years. He joined the Bears prior to the 2018 season and helped the team go from 13-12 in 2017 to 24-8 in 2018. The Bears have finished third in the highly competitive Pac-12 over Olson's first two seasons on staff. He was originally hired as an assistant coach during the 2018 season and was promoted to associate head coach for the 2019 season.
During the 2020 campaign, Olson took over as acting head coach when Owusu was on maternity leave. Olson led the team to a 9-1 start to the campaign, which included wins over No. 19 Arizona State and No. 5 USC. The win over USC marked Cal's second-ever win over a top-five team. It also ended up as the final match of the campaign as the rest of the season was canceled due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Cal finished the 2020 season ranked No. 10 in the AVCA poll, the highest-ever finish for the Bears.
"When I heard the news, it was bittersweet for me," Olson said. "I know how much the program means to Meagan. She has elevated it so much in only a couple of years; it's sad to see her go. She brought me to Cal, took a chance on me. I will forever be grateful to her for doing that. Last year, I had the opportunity to coach the team while Meagan was away on maternity leave. That experience prepared me for this moment and I know I am ready to lead the team. We still have unfinished business and I am ready to get started when we are allowed. The team has dealt with a lot in the last year and I am eager to get after it with them and be there for them."
Regarded as an expert in the technical side of beach volleyball, Olson has been an integral contributor to practice planning and execution, as well as in-match coaching. Previously, he was a longtime pro on the AVP and FIVB beach volleyball tours. Olson finished in the top 10 in 13 career AVP events, including as high as fifth on three different occasions. He's also represented the United States in nine NORCECA events internationally.
"Derek did a superb job while serving as the acting head coach of our beach volleyball program last year while Meagan was on maternity leave," Knowlton said. "We believe the program will once again be in good hands when the team is able to return to the sand this spring."