Cal Beach Volleyball head coach Meagan Owusu steps down

The Cal Volleyball alum had taken the 2020 spring season off to give birth to triplets

The first full-time head coach of Cal Beach Volleyball, the newest of Cal Athletics’ 30 programs, will not be returning to her previous post after her maternity leave. Meagan Owusu, who took the pandemic-shortened 2020 season off in preparation for giving birth to triplets back in March, has decided to step down from her head coach role to spend more time with her young family.

Meagan Owusu, formerly Schmitt from her Cal Volleyball playing days, has been a Cal lifer. She is married to Cal Football alum Ernest Owusu after the two met as student-athletes at school. She was also one of the many Cal Olympic Sports head coaches (along with Kirk Everist in Men’s Water Polo, Amanda Augustus in Women’s Tennis, Peter Wright in Men’s Tennis, Walter Chun in Men’s Golf, Scott Frandsen in Men’s Rowing, and Chelsea Spencer in Softball) who was also a Cal Athletics alum.

Meagan was a starting defense specialist for the Cal Indoor Volleyball program during those special back-to-back Final Four seasons in 2009 and 2010 (her senior year). After getting her coaching career successfully started at Loyola Marymount, she returned to Cal in 2015 after the addition of the beach volleyball program in 2014. After one year as the associated head coach, Owusu was named the first full-time Cal Beach Volleyball head coach in 2016 with former Cal Volleyball head coach Rich Feller elevated to the Director of Volleyball.

Cal Beach Volleyball became a program on the rise under Owusu. Her team has a 76-40 record from 2016 to 2019 with Owusu at the helm. Last year, the squad that Owusu assembled went 9-1 with the program achieving its second victory over a top 5 squad (No.5 USC), which unfortunately became the last match of the abbreviated season. Derek Olson, who has been at Cal for the past three seasons, will again take over the program for the 2021 campaign on an interim basis. Cal AD Jim Knowlton has already announced that Cal will conduct a national search for the next head coach of the program at the conclusion of the 2021 season. Following what Cal has done in many Olympic sports recently, I would not be surprised if they end up opting to elevate the young Derek Olson to the full-time role.

Here is Meagan Owusu’s full statement:

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.

Before her maternity leave, Meagan Owusu earned the prestigious "Thirty Under 30" Award by the AVCA in 2018. Owusu was instrumental in transforming the Cal Beach Volleyball program from using indoor players (the program operated the first several years without any scholarships) to eventually recruit dedicated players, more and more of them having junior All-American pedigree. Cal indoor volleyball star Mima Mirkovic playing both indoor (as the full rotation outside hitter) and beach volleyball (as half of Cal’s top pair) is now more of an exception than the rule.

Most impressively, the not-particularly-well-funded Cal Beach Volleyball program has been able to succeed thanks greatly to the depth of its roster (finding many dedicated, non-scholarship players) in the past few years; Bears have won many 3–5 pair matches to take meets. Bears earned 15 meets over ranked opponents in 2018 and 2019 to finish 3rd in a loaded Pac-12 beach volleyball conference that has swept all four (two apiece by USC and UCLA) NCAA Beach Volleyball Championships in history. The Cal Beach Volleyball facility at Clark Kerr is hoping to undergo some much needed basic facility upgrades in a project that was announced last year but has faced challenges from Berkeley Hill residents (who are overestimating college beach volleyball’s popularity) and of course this COVID-19 pandemic.

With those triplets sharing the genes of two Cal Bears greats, I am sure that many Cal fans are already thinking about cheering them on in their potential future Cal careers. Once her kids are older, maybe Meagan would return to coaching, but given her propensity to succeed in everything in her life thus far, she has plenty of other career options in addition to motherhood thanks to her Cal degree.

Best of luck to Meagan Owusu on all of her future endeavors. Thanks for all that she has done for Cal, especially laying down the foundations for the Cal Beach Volleyball program to thrive and prosper.