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Olympic dream comes true for three locals

Alan Knipe, David McKienzie and Russell Holmes will represent the area and the country, trying to help the U.S. men's volleyball team to the podium at the Summer Games in London.

July 25, 2012|By Mike Sciacca
  • David McKienzie
David McKienzie (Matt Brown )

Imagine if not one, but three, athletes from the same community were selected to the U.S. Olympic team. Now imagine if all three were together in the same sport under the Team USA umbrella.

That's exactly what Alan Knipe, David McKienzie and Russell Holmes have accomplished. Each is a member of the U.S. men's volleyball team that is in London for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Knipe played at Marina High and later coached at Golden West College, and is head coach of the U.S. men's team. McKienzie played the final two years of his prep career at Huntington Beach High, and Holmes prepped at Fountain Valley High. Both are part of the 12-player roster.

Knipe still calls Huntington Beach home. Holmes lives in Fountain Valley and McKienzie currently resides in Hermosa Beach.

"There is a big Sunset League connection here," Knipe said.

"It's really great when an area has a local athlete make it to the Olympics," he said. "Three of us coming from the same area, though, is pretty special."

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The men's volleyball team left July 19 for London. Knipe said his squad will scrimmage several times before its pool play opener against Serbia on Sunday. The Olympic tournament, he said, is certain to be formidable and challenging, but the experience should be unforgettable.

Knipe is coaching the U.S. for the first time. McKienzie and Holmes also will be making their Olympic debuts. Each has taken a different route to London.

Knipe, 42, recently completed his third season as head coach of the U.S. team. He coached for nine years at Long Beach State but took a leave of absence to coach the U.S. men's team. This year under Knipe, the U.S. won the NORCECA Men's Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament and won its pool at the World League to advance to the Final Round.

"Whether as a player or a coach, it's exciting to be part of the Olympic Games," said Knipe, who lives in Huntington Beach with his wife and two sons. "I'm honored to have the opportunity to lead the U.S. men's volleyball team."

It's been a long road for the 33-year-old McKienzie, a 6-foot-4, 215 opposite, to reach London. An all-league, All-CIF and All-America player at Huntington Beach High (Class of 1997), he went on to play for Knipe at Long Beach State. Before graduating in 2001, Knipe had been a two-time AVCA All-American. In a 1999 match at Brigham Young University, he set an NCAA Division 1 record for kills (58) in a match.

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