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Olympic winning Kiwi coach joins ambassador ranks for World Masters Games 2017

One of New Zealand’s most successful sports coaches on the international stage has joined World Masters Games 2017 as its newest ambassador.

Dunedin-born, United States based volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon guided the United States men’s volleyball team to gold in Beijing 2008 and coached the USA women’s team to silver in London four years later.  These achievements established McCutcheon as the only head coach of any US Olympic team sport to lead a men’s and women’s team to podium finishes, and saw him named USOC Coach of the Year in 2008 and, five years later, receiving the USA Volleyball “All-time Great Coach” Award.

Chief Executive of World Masters Games 2017, Jennah Wootten, said it was a real privilege to have an international legend like McCutcheon on the ambassadors’ team.  “Hugh is currently head coach of the NCAA Division 1 University of Minnesota’s women’s volleyball team and helped us with our first major international promotion last month in Minneapolis at the US National Seniors Games.” 

“We are expecting World Masters Games 2017 competitors to come from 100 countries and as such we wanted to have ambassadors who are connected into the global sporting community. The North American market and the sport of volleyball are extremely important for us and Hugh’s reputation and networks within the United States and within volleyball internationally are second-to-none.”  

Hugh McCutcheon said he was fortunate to have experienced what being involved in an international multi-sport event means.  “I’m passionate about sports and about New Zealand so it was a very easy decision, indeed an honour, to accept the invitation to represent World Masters Games 2017.” 

CEO of Volleyball New Zealand, Paul Cameron, said the sport of volleyball could have no better advocate locally and internationally than McCutcheon.  “Volleyball is a massive global sport with around 250 million registered players in 220 countries.  We know that Hugh’s involvement will provide a wonderful boost for us to showcase volleyball in New Zealand during the World Masters Games 2017.”

McCutcheon joins International Goodwill Ambassador, Lord Sebastian Coe, and former Olympic bronze medal swimmer Anthony Mosse as the internationally-based World Masters Games 2017 ambassadors.  “We have a target to attract at least 50% of our 25,000 athletes from overseas and the reach the likes of Hugh, Lord Coe and Anthony give us is unparalleled,” said Ms Wootten.  “We will be looking to add to our small but influential pool of international ambassadors over the next six months as we increase our promotional activity in the key markets of North America, United Kingdom, Europe, Asia and Australia.”

The internationally-based ambassadors join 11 New Zealand domiciled ambassadors – Hamish Carter, Jenny-May Coffin, Garth Barfoot, Susie Simcock, Bryan Williams, Allison Roe, Noah Hickey, Cory Hutchings, Anna Stanley, Nathan Twaddle and Mark Orams.  “We are extremely grateful for the work our ambassadors do on our behalf in a voluntary capacity.  They provide a reach and depth of contacts and networks to help spread the World Masters Games 2017 story which is invaluable,” said Ms Wootten.

For further information please contact:

Jill Dryden, Communications Manager – Ambassadors, World Masters Games 2017

Tel: +64 (0) 21 549 576


About World Masters Games 2017

The World Masters Games is the largest multi-sport event in the world.  In terms of athlete numbers, it is bigger in scale than even the Olympics.  Auckland will host the event from 21 to 30 April 2017 during which time 25,000 athletes will compete in 28 sports across 45 competition venues.  The Games are regarded as the largest event New Zealand will host in at least the next decade. For more information visit

About Barfoot & Thompson:

Barfoot & Thompson is the presenting partner for World Masters Games 2017.  It is New Zealand’s largest, privately owned real estate company and is still run by the Barfoot and Thompson families after more than 90 years.  Barfoot & Thompson consistently sells around one in three homes in the Auckland region and manages more than 11,000 rental properties, well ahead of competitor brands.

For more information visit

About World Masters Games 2017 valued partners:

World Masters Games would like to thank its valued partners:  Barfoot & Thompson, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), International Masters Games Association (IMGA), Air New Zealand, SKYCITY Auckland, Pita Pit, NZCT


One of New Zealand’s most successful sports coaches on the international stage...
Club Champs Star 6 Awarded

Shirley Silverbacks setter Nicky Pio has been named tournament MVP after her Christchurch side won their first national senior women’s volleyball title in Tauranga at the weekend.

Nicky Pio, far right, celebrates with her Shirley team-mates after clinching the national women’s title. Photo: Julie Maree Photography


Pio was at her pinpoint best as Shirley eased past defending champions North Harbour A 3-0 in the final. The 18-year-old Burnside HS student has had a breakout year, with her school side winning the national title in April and earlier Pio took out the national beach title with Shirley and Burnside team-mate Alice Zeimann.

MVP and Pines spiker Ben O’Dea hammers down a winner against Playaz in the men’s final. Photo: Julie Maree Photography

Rising Kiwi beach star Ben O’Dea was men’s MVP, helping Pines (Nelson) to their fourth consecutive title with a commanding 3-0 win over first-time finalists Playaz (Auckland). O’Dea’s punishing serve and all-round game were key for Pines, who shoot for a record five straight titles next year.

Star 6 Tournament Awards


MVP: Nicky Pio, Shirley

Best Passer: Alice Zeimann , Shirley 

Best Defender: Rachelle Yardley, Hamilton A

Best Server: Katie Adamson, Shirley 

Best Spiker: Lisa Claassen, Tauranga 

Best Setter: Nicky Pio, Shirley 

Best Blocker: Luisa Giles Baker, North Harbour A


MVP: Ben O’Dea, Pines (Nelson)

Best Passer: Tom Hartles, Harbour Raiders A 

Best Defender: Trevor Satiu, Playaz  (Auckland)

Best Server: Ben O'Dea, Pines

Best Spiker: Ben Glue,  Pines

Best Setter: Patrick Shone, Pines

Best Blocker: Haati Alatini, Playaz

Shirley Silverbacks setter Nicky Pio has been named tournament MVP after her...

Junior Champs Underway


A large turnout of Year 9 & 10 school volleyball teams will be vieing for the 'Island Champion' titles at the Volleyball New Zealand North and South Island Junior Secondary School Championships, being held simultaneously in Tauranga and Christchurch.

The North Island Championships take place at the ASB Baypark Arena in Mount Maunganui from Monday 25th to Friday 29th November, with a field of 49 Girls' teams and 42 Boys' teams participating. Favourites for the top division Girls' title are a raft of local Tauranga teams from Otumoetai, Bethlehem, Mount Maunganui and Tauranga Girls Colleges. Their main challenge is expected to come from Whakatane's Trident High, North Harbour's Rangitoto and Orewa Colleges, and Rotorua's Western Heights High. The dominance of Bay of Plenty sides in the top seedings is expected to draw large crowds throughout the week.

The top Boys' section features a wider spread of teams, with Western Heights leading the way from Orewa and North Harbour's Westlake Boys High, with South Auckland side Manurewa High, and Otumoetai, Bethlehem and Rangitoto all expected to mount a credible challenge. Also featuring at the event will be Girls' and Boys teams from Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay/Poverty Bay, Manawatu and Wellington.

Down south, the Island event will be played in Christchurch at Pioneer Stadium, and Middleton Grange school, with 39 Girls' and 22 Boy's teams in action from 25th to 28th November.

Girls favouritism is shared equally between Tasman region schools Nayland and Waimea Colleges, and Nelson and Marlborough Girls Colleges, and Christchurch teams from Riccarton, Burnside and Aranui High Schools, and Middleton Grange school.

The southern Boys' title is expected to be fought between schools from the same regions – Nelson, Nayland and Waimea Colleges, with Riccarton and Shirley High being joined from further south by Timaru and Otago Boys High teams in the top seeded positions.

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