As he watched Karch Kiraly and the U.S. men’s volleyball team win gold in the 1984 Olympics, a South Texas teenager named Michael Dearman saw his future being served, dug, and spiked right before his eyes.
“I had never seen volleyball played at that level before,” Dearman said. “I followed them through the tournament. For me, that’s what really turned me on to volleyball. In Texas, girls played volleyball, and boys didn’t. When I watched the men play, I thought, ‘That’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I’ve got to learn how to play this.’ ”
That set the wheels in motion for a playing career, which led to a coaching career that brought Dearman to Highland Park a decade ago. And with Friday’s victory over Newman Smith, he is just two wins away from his 500th.
“It doesn’t seem like very long ago that a colleague of mine, a basketball coach, reached her 500th win,” Dearman said. “At that time, I was only a couple of years into coaching. I just remember being awed by how that’s possible. Now that it’s coming around for me, it’s hard to believe we’ve had that many matches.”
After taking up club volleyball while attending Brazosport High School, Dearman ate, drank, and slept volleyball, and quickly discovered he had a natural ability to play the sport. It was that natural ability — along with sending lots of tape to colleges — that helped him land a scholarship at Graceland University in Iowa.
“When I went to that school, there was just something about it that felt like home to me,” Dearman said. “I was convinced I was going to play volleyball in California. I had gone out and visited Pepperdine and UCLA. I just assumed I was going to follow my idol, Karch Kiraly, who played at UCLA. There was something special about [Graceland].”
While at Graceland, Dearman helped the Yellowjackets make it all the way to the NAIA championship match, which they lost to California. He also met his wife, who was a basketball player at Graceland.
After graduating, they started a family. So Dearman opted to go into the business world, rather than coach volleyball.
“I really missed the game,” he said. “I made the decision a few years into my business career to go into teaching and coaching. I decided to do what I had a passion for, which is teaching and coaching. I never looked back.”
Dearman, 49, started his career at Crandall, where he got to experience the joy of having an influence on somebody’s life. One of his first players, Chelsea Beal, is now an assistant coach at Wylie East.
“He’s probably one of the main reasons I got into coaching,” Beal said. “It was real exciting. He made things relevant. He made us work hard, but he also kept things fun and interesting. That’s probably what kept me academically successful, as well, knowing I could play volleyball.”
Since coming to Highland Park in 2004, he has led the Lady Scots to four district titles, three regional finals, and the state championship match in 2008. In 17 years, he has never missed the playoffs.
Dearman’s current players are looking forward to helping him secure win No. 500.
“It will be really cool,” Lady Scots senior defensive specialist Grace Carter said. “It’s such a big deal for him, It will be so great to honor him for working so hard to get to 500.”
Dearman is excited about the possibilities of this season. Heading into Tuesday’s District 10-4A match at Poteet, the Lady Scots are 23-6 and ranked No. 4 in the state. But regardless of how things end up this year, Dearman knows he will have give everything he has to the team.
“The most rewarding thing for me is the relationships I build with parents, coach, and players,” Dearman said. “As an educator and coach, you hope you teach and give something to a young person who can take that and use it in their life. That’s always special.”