Billy Ketch Allen

A Mostly Volleyball Blog


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CYBO – Team Culture with Hugh McCutcheon

First guest post! My volleyball nemesis and fellow Coach Your Brains Out host John Mayer writes about our interview with the great Hugh McCutcheon. Enjoy!

Team Culture with Hugh McCutcheon

by John Mayer

In the year 2005 I was a part of the Pepperdine National Championship winning team. About a week after we won our championship over UCLA I got a call from the men’s national team coach, Hugh McCutcheon. He asked me if I was interested in going to Colorado Springs to train as a libero with the team. I was honored that he even considered me but after some thought I decided to stay in California and pursue my dream of competing on the AVP. For the next few years I went on lose a bunch of matches, get dumped by partners, and eventually become a “main draw player.” Hugh on the other hand went on to lead the men to a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics. As the grail knight in Indiana Jones would say, “You did not choose wisely.” Continue reading


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Partnerships

A friend of mine, we’ll call him AJ, was riding home with his beach partner from a disappointing tournament in San Diego when his phone vibrated. It was a text message from a higher ranked player asking to play in the next tournament. AJ texted “Let’s do it!” and then told his now ex-partner, the driver, that he would be playing the next tournament with someone else.

The car pulled off the 405 freeway and AJ was told, “Get out of my car.”

AJ had to call his wife for a ride the rest of the way home.

I’ve had a lot of partnerships over my career and I’ve enjoyed every one of them. None were left on non-speaking terms or found me stranded on the 405. Continue reading


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Kinda Good History – Part 2

Part The Second, in which our hero Danny Kinda plyo-jumps over college, taking his talents straight to the National Team.

Danny Kinda received a lot of interest in his recruiting video and even took a tour of the UCLA campus to meet with legendary volleyball coach, Al Scates. But Danny didn’t think college was enough of a challenge so he broke in visited a National Team practice in Anaheim, California. Although the players had some raw talent, there was a lot they still had to learn about the game. So, in order to win a gold medal in the coming Olympics, Danny Kinda took on a player/coach role, teaching Team USA some volleyball basics…

Sorry, got caught up in the story again. Sometimes, it feels like Danny Kinda is writing this. This blog series is supposed to explain what really happened, so here we go.

Continue reading


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Coach Your Brains Out

In April of 2015, I started a coaching podcast with John Mayer and Nils Nielsen. We spent our first episode huddled over an iPhone talking about warmups. The conversation went all over the place and the audio was rough, but it was fun to get together and talk volley and different coaching ideas. I titled the podcast “Coach Your Brains Out” as a joke, thinking we’d come up with something better later. We never did.

Over two years and one hundred and something episodes later, we’re still going strong putting out an episode a week. We usually record remotely now and our sound has gotten better thanks to some microphones. We’ve also added Andrew Fuller to the crew. It’s crazy to look at the list below and see all the amazing guests who’ve come on and shared with us. If you’re into coaching or playing sports (especially volleyball) then this podcast is for you. I’ve learned a lot doing this podcast; it’s made me a better player and coach. That’s why I still do it. Continue reading


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Writing My First Book

I took a break from blog posts to finish another writing project. A fantasy novel!

Attempting a full book was daunting, especially with a one-year-old in the house. But I knew I could do it if I carved out enough time and stayed consistent (and ignored my kid sometimes). Between volleyball and coaching and chasing Ketch around the house…or the park…or the neighborhood, I’d find time to write every day most days.

I became a morning person. I woke up and tip-toed to the living room to get an hour or so of writing in before the little monster woke up and started slamming my laptop shut.

And it worked! Almost a year later those stolen minutes add up to a 116,000-word novel. Written twice! (If I was a better writer who got it right the first time I could have written two books in that time).

Here are some ways writing is similar to volleyball: Continue reading


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San Francisco AVP Part 2 (A Song of Ice and Fire)

Some players make highlight reels. I am not one of those players. High-line shots aren’t included in a Best Hits montage and I’ve yet to walk around a tournament and overhear, “Did you see that routine dig Billy Allen had? That was amazing!”

My partner Stafford Slick on the other hand, is such player. Last year in San Francisco he bounced a back set in front of Casey Patterson and nearly out of the stadium before lifting off his goggles and parading around. This is now known as the Slick Slam. Part of me worries this kind of attention will set him back as he tries to top himself in front of a crowded stadium, hitting straight down instead of over the block like he is capable of. But that part of me is probably just jealous I don’t have the kind of velocity to get a hit named after me. Continue reading


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San Francisco AVP Part 1 (Memorable Matches)

It was an hour drive from our hotel to downtown Cabo San Lucas where we were going for a glass-bottom boat ride. I sat in the front seat of the large charter bus filled with guests of South of the Border Volleyball Vacations, answering questions to pass the time. After the usual talk about technique and the drama behind partner breakups, someone asked, “What’s your favorite game you’ve ever played?”

Thinking back over my career, my favorite matches aren’t necessarily my best finishes. I don’t remember the details of my first main draw win other than my opponent, Brent Doble, approached me after the match to recount all the lucky breaks I got. The most memorable matches usually have a few factors that make them stand out: the strength of opponent, how close the score was, and how well I played. Continue reading