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Wendell Birkhofer with John Kosty

Gift helps men’s volleyball program prepare for future success

John Kosty to serve as Birkhofer Family Men’s Volleyball Head Coach.

With a new gift for its head coach position, the men’s volleyball team at Stanford is well-positioned to retain and recruit the very best coaching staff. John Kosty, who has spent 15 years at the helm of the program, is the inaugural Birkhofer Family Men’s Volleyball Head Coach, named for a gift from men’s volleyball alum Wendell Birkhofer, ’78, MBA ’87, and his wife, Celeste.

“This gift will allow Stanford men's volleyball to continue to impact and develop student-athletes for decades to come,” said Kosty. “I am honored to hold this title and extend a heartfelt thanks to Wendell and Celeste on behalf of every Stanford men's volleyball player and coach.”

Wendell played on The Farm from 1977-78 and helped set the foundation for the men's volleyball program, which was in its infancy as a varsity sport at the time. He was a member of the first Cardinal varsity team to advance to the postseason, appearing in the NCIVC Tournament and NCAA West Regional in 1977.

The Birkhofers have been longtime, loyal supporters of the program and of the university, which has played a major role in the family’s higher education. Both of their children, as well as Wendell’s parents and half-brother, are all Stanford graduates; additionally, Celeste serves as a member of the adjunct clinical faculty in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine. Over the years, their giving has also included support for financial aid, undergraduate education, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Stanford Medicine.

“Men’s volleyball has a great history at Stanford, and Wendell is an integral part of that history. I am very grateful to the Birkhofer family for their enduring support for the program and commitment to having the varsity team thrive for many seasons to come,” said Bernard Muir, the Jaquish & Kenninger Director of Athletics.

Stanford men's volleyball won the NCAA championship in 1997 and 2010 – the former with Kosty as an assistant coach and the latter in his fourth season as head coach. The Cardinal has made five appearances in the national semifinals, advancing to the title match on all five occasions. Under Kosty, Stanford has produced 15 AVCA All-Americans who have won a total of 29 awards.

In recent months, galvanized by the since-reversed decision to discontinue the program as a varsity sport, Stanford alumni and donors have joined together to provide long-term sources of financial support.

“The success of Stanford men's volleyball on the court is equally matched by the strength of our community, including amazing careers and achievements in multiple fields,” Birkhofer said. “I am very proud of our group of alums, past and current coaches, and the current team who have gone through a difficult period in the last year. We have persevered through significant adversity and are now on the path to making the varsity program financially self-sustaining. Celeste and I are thrilled to help bolster the program for the future.”

This story originally appeared on Go Stanford.