Entering his 23rd season at Kansas in 2020, Bechard has led the Jayhawks to a 398-269 (.597) mark, including a 167-50 (.770) record from 2012-18. In all, the hall-of-fame coach has taken KU to the 2015 Final Four, won the 2016 Big 12 title, earned Big 12 Coach of the Year four times, and overseen nine All-Americans during his time at KU.
Entering his 23rd season as head coach of the University of Kansas volleyball program and 36th overall, Ray Bechard has led the Jayhawks to unprecedented success on the court and in life. During his 1,000-win career, victories have been the product of a goal but not the goal itself.
The long-time coach with the heart of a teacher has one primary message: contribute more than you consume. His mantra for his student-athletes through the years applies far beyond the volleyball court and into all aspects of life. Bechard’s contribution to KU volleyball has proven to be transformational, yielding four Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year awards while overseeing KU’s steady transition into a national contender.
The western Kansas native with a lifelong passion for all things KU has led the Jayhawks to six-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a national semifinalist finish in 2015 and a Big 12 Conference title in 2016. From 2015 to 2017, the Jayhawks were nationally-ranked in the AVCA Coaches’ Poll 45-straight times and have finished the last six seasons with a top-20 ranking in the NCAA RPI.
Bechard, the winningest coach in Kansas volleyball history, reached 300 victories at Kansas in 2015 and collected his 1,000th career win in 2014. Both milestones put him in elite company, with the latter putting him at second among active Big 12 Conference coaches. Since his arrival on the coaching scene in 1985, Bechard spent 13 seasons on the sidelines of Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kansas, before taking over the reins at the University of Kansas.
Additionally, Bechard has built a solid fan base for Kansas volleyball as the Jayhawks have consistently finished among the nation’s top atmospheres in both capacity percentage and match-day environment. In back-to-back seasons — 2016 and 2017 — Kansas sold out its entire allotment of season tickets for Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
All eight of KU’s NCAA Tournament appearances occurred in the Bechard era and every postseason trip breaks new ground. In 2016, the Jayhawks earned their fifth-consecutive and highest national seed (No. 5) in the NCAA Tournament to earn the right to host the first and second rounds for the fifth-consecutive season and second time at Horejsi.
No Kansas team in the 40-year history of volleyball at the University of Kansas had won a conference title. That all changed in 2016 as Kansas tore through the Big 12 regular-season schedule with a 15-1 record to capture sole possession of its first-ever conference title. Each win during league play was crucial, including five five-set victories, but on Oct. 29, 2016 the Jayhawks symbolically dethroned five-time reigning Big 12 champion Texas by defeating the Longhorns for the first time since 2003.
KU won its last 14 Big 12 matches during the 2016 season and clinched the league title during a memorable five-set Senior Day victory over Iowa State on Nov. 19. It was a fitting way to bid farewell to seniors Maggie Anderson, Tayler Soucie, and Cassie Wait, who helped KU achieve unprecedented success during their playing careers. The trio guided Kansas to 104 victories and the highest four-year winning percentage (.819) in program history.
Bechard came to KU after spending 13 years as the head coach at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kan. After a stellar coaching career at BCCC, Bechard was inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1998. In 13 seasons at Barton County, Bechard posted a career record of 716-60 (.923 winning percentage) and coached 23 Academic All-Americans. He completed his career at BCCC with the highest all-time winning percentage among junior college/community college coaches and ranked fourth all-time with 716 career wins. Twice (1990 and 1993) Bechard was named the AVCA National Junior College Coach of the Year, and he was selected the AVCA District IV Coach of the Year 12 times.
In 1995, he was an assistant coach for the USA Volleyball Youth National Team which won the Slovakian Cup Championship in Zilina, Slovakia. Bechard, who was the only non-Division I coach on the staff, coached alongside TCU’s Sandy Troudt and Penn State assistant Erin Tomblin. The team competed against youth teams from Poland and Slovakia.
Bechard began his coaching career when he served three years (1980-83) as head coach of the girls’ volleyball team and the boys’ basketball team at Lewis High School in Lewis, Kan. The first sign of his coaching talent was evident as he directed LHS to a pair of conference titles on the volleyball court.
A member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association, Bechard served as president of the organization in 2010. He was also a member of the board of directors of the AVCA from 1992-98 and has presented at the AVCA National Convention on two different occasions. Bechard was also president of the NJCAA Volleyball Coaches Association from 1989-92.
A native of Grinnell, Kansas, Bechard played basketball at Barton County, where he helped the Cougars to a 45-13 record in his two seasons. Following his junior college playing career, Bechard attended Fort Hays State University where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1980. Two years later, he received his master’s degree in physical education from FHSU.
Bechard is married to the former Pamela Brown. The couple has two children and three grandchildren. Their daughter Ashley was a KU letterwinner in volleyball from 2001-04, and married Erik Henkelman in 2011. Erik and Ashley have two children – Evelyn (Evie), born in July 2014, and Hutchins, born in August 2017. Their son, Brennan, who played on the Kansas men’s basketball team from 2007-09, is the men’s basketball director of operations at KU and is married to the former Danielle Hayes. Brennan and Danielle gave birth to their first child, Lucy, in April 2017.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT COACH B
“Coach Bechard has created a consistent national powerhouse at KU and has done so with integrity, dignity and class. He has mentored scores of athletes and coaches, and has given back to our sport by contributing his time, energy, insights and wisdom at all levels of volleyball.
Terry Liskevych, AVCA Hall of Fame Class of 2003
‘I would love to have my own daughters play in his program — that is the highest praise I can offer for another coach.
Terry Pettit, AVCA Hall of Fame Class of 2009
‘Coach B is Kansas volleyball. His loyalty, passion and love for KU, the sport and his players is unmatched. He brings a calm intensity. He genuinely cares about this team, this program and you as a player and person, on and off the court.
Jill Dorsey-Hall, Kansas Volleyball 2001-04
‘On a daily basis I learned from Coach B through natural interactions and life skills of how to deal with day to day management of a program. From 2011 to 2017 we built a culture of diversity and experiences I will forever remember and keep with me. He is a calming voice of reason when it comes to any topic or life challenge. He will always be someone I look to for advice!
Laura “Bird” Kuhn, Texas A&M Head Coach
‘Coach and I started out as neighbors. We quickly became friends and watched each other’s families grow. Over the years I have been in and out of town and moved around, but our connection is as strong as ever. I even had the honor of introducing his oldest daughter Ashley and her husband Erik to the gathering at their wedding! He is an amazing family man and has definitely affected how I am with my own family. I’m lucky to call him one of my best friends.
Scot Pollard, former basketball player at KU and in the NBA
AWARDS & HONORS INDEX
• PrepVolleyball National Coach of the Year 
• Four-time Big 12 Coach of the Year [2012, 2013, 2015, 2016]
• Three-time AVCA Region Coach of the Year [2012 Central, 2013 Midwest, 2015 Midwest]
• Two-time AVCA National Junior College Coach of the Year [1990, 1993]
• 12-time AVCA District IV Junior College Coach of the Year [1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997]
Kelsie Payne – 2015 First Team, 2016 First Team, 2017 Third Team
Ainise Havili – 2014 Honorable Mention, 2015 First Team, 2016 Third Team, 2017 Honorable Mention
Madison Rigdon – 2016 Honorable Mention, 2017 Honorable Mention
Cassie Wait – 2016 Honorable Mention
Chelsea Albers – 2013 Honorable Mention, 2014 Honorable Mention
Caroline Jarmoc – 2012 Second Team, 2013 Third Team
Sara McClinton – 2013 Honorable Mention
Erin McNorton – 2013 Honorable Mention
Josi Lima – 2003 Honorable Mention
at Barton County Community College
Ning Zhao – 1997 First Team
Jenny Way – 1996 First Team
Alexis Shepherd – 1995 First Team
Julie Williams – 1994 First Team
Nicole Harris – 1993 First Team
Michelle Stirrett – 1993 First Team
Tracy Bernhardt – 1992 First Team
Lori Klenke – 1991 First Team
Karen Washington – 1990 First Team
Michelle Hall – 1989 First Team, 1990 First Team
Yvette Clark – 1989 First Team
Paula Martin – 1988 First Team
Trish Gadberry – 1986 First Team
Sheila Johnson – 1985 First Team
|THE BECHARD FILE|
|Alma Mater: Fort Hays State, 1980|
|Hometown: Grinnell, Kan.|
|1998-Present, Kansas (HC)|
|22nd Season at Kansas|
|Record at KU: 398-269 (.597)|
|1985-97, Barton County CC (HC)|
|13 Seasons at Barton County CC|
|Record at Barton: 716-60 (.923)|
|35th Season Overall|
|Career Record: 1,114-329 (.772)|
|AVCA All-Americans: 23|
|NCAA Tournament Appearances: 9|
|AWARDS & HONORS|
|NJCAA Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame|
|Barton County Community College Sports Hall of Fame|
|Kansas Volleyball Association|
|2015 National Coach of the Year|
|Four-time Big 12 Coach of the Year|
|Three-time AVCA Region Coach of the Year|
|Two-time AVCA National JuCo Coach of the Year|
|12-time AVCA District IV JuCo Coach of the Year|