EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State volleyball head coach Leah Johnson announced Wednesday that beginning in 2023, the annual Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational will be known as the Kathy DeBoer Invitational presented by Auto-Owners Insurance. DeBoer, a 1978 graduate from Michigan State, was inducted in the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2022 and recently announced her plan to retire as Executive Director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA).
“Our program is thrilled to honor the career and legacy of Kathy DeBoer,” said Johnson. “Kathy has been one of the most prominent advocates for women’s athletics dating back to her time as a student-athlete at Michigan State in the 1970s. Her dedication to the sport of volleyball has led to exponential growth for our game during her 17 years as Executive Director of the AVCA.”
DeBoer has long been one of the top advocates for the sport of volleyball and women’s athletics throughout the country. Her 17-year stint as Executive Director of the AVCA saw volleyball grow at unprecedented levels, becoming the top team sport for high school girls in the United States in 2015. Volleyball at the NCAA Division I level is as popular as it has ever been, with the 2023 DI NCAA Championship match drawing record attendance.
“I am so grateful to Coach Johnson, AD Haller and Associate AD Julee Burgess for honoring me in this way,” said DeBoer. “Sharing the name of the Invitational with Auto-Owners Insurance only serves to amplify this honor as their support shows women’s volleyball has value in the marketplace, a goal I have worked towards for my entire career.”
Prior to her time with the AVCA, DeBoer served as head volleyball coach at both Ferris State University and the University of Kentucky before moving into athletic administration at Kentucky. DeBoer rose to the title of Senior Associate Athletics Director before joining the AVCA.
“Kathy has served as an exemplary role model of success and integrity for so many people,” said Dr. Jaime Gordon, the AVCA Executive Director in waiting. “She has been a trailblazer in athletics, coaching and administration who has had a profound impact on the lives of countless individuals. Naming this event after Kathy is appropriate because it will provide an opportunity to tell her story so she can continue to…
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