Virgil Hooe is synonymous with volleyball in Alaska, a man who has elevated and influenced the sport more than anyone.
As a high school coach, he helped three Anchorage schools to 17 state championships. As a club coach, he helped scores of Alaskans develop skills and habits that paved their way to college.
Hooe didn’t think much about the game of volleyball before he was drafted by the Army during the Vietnam War in 1971. Then he started playing military intramural games and fell in love with the game’s intricacies. A lifelong passion was born and it led to a long-lasting career.
Hooe won one state championship in five years as the West High coach and then turned Service High into a juggernaut, guiding the Cougars to 14 conference championships and 10 state championships in 21 seasons.
When South High opened, he became an assistant coach and had a hand in six more state championships.
For all of his success as a high school coach, however, Hooe’s biggest impact came at the club level — at a club he started himself. The Midnight Sun club program, which Hooe started in 1983 with Dan Knecht, has helped dozens of players from across Alaska earn college scholarships.
Hooe stopped coaching after the 2015-16 school year but continued his involvement by becoming a volunteer assistant at UAA, where his daughter, Morgan, was nearing the end of an All-America career.
Besides coaching, Hooe has put on scores of clinics and has served as a regional commissioner for the U.S. Volleyball Association.
And even after he stopped coaching at the high school level, he remained part of the scene by making cameo appearances at nearly all of Anchorage’s high schools, showing up at practices to help runs drills and otherwise share his knowledge.
– Beth Bragg