The true story of how a group of talented volleyball players learned to put their egos aside, became a team, and changed the sport of volleyball forever.
In the early 1980s, a golden generation of volleyball players joined the U.S. men’s national team. With the Olympics coming to Los Angeles in 1984, the pressure was on to build a winning program around these exceptional athletes. But could a group of individuals put aside their egos and play as a true team to achieve Olympic gold in their home country?
In If Gold Is Our Destiny: How a Team of Mavericks Came Together for Olympic Glory, Sean P. Murray shares the incredible story of how a group of free-spirited players and their demanding coach captured the heart of a nation and became one of the greatest indoor volleyball teams of all time. As the team struggled leading up to the Olympics, head coach Doug Beal mandated a highly controversial three-week Outward Bound hike across one hundred miles in the Canyonlands and Abajo Mountains in Utah. Murray details all the internal strife and heartwarming triumphs from this unprecedented trip, as players and coaches learned to cooperate and trust one another. He reveals how the team used this newfound trust to implement an innovative approach to volleyball that changed not only their success on the court but the sport itself on a global scale.
Featuring original interviews with players, coaches, and staff, along with a foreword by three-time gold medal champion Karch Kiraly, If Gold Is Our Destiny delivers an inside look at what it takes for a group of talented individuals to overcome their differences, build a culture of excellence, and become the best in the world.
Sean Murray is the founder and president of RealTime Performance, a leadership training and organization development firm. With over twenty-five years of experience working with executive teams, his clients have included Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Amazon, State Farm, Boeing, Marriott, PepsiCo, Vail Resorts, Starbucks, and others. Murray writes regularly at his blog, RealTime Performance, publishes a bi-weekly newsletter, “Murray on Leadership,” and hosts “The Good Life Podcast.” Murray has created a companion workshop to If Gold Is Our Destiny that teaches timeless lessons on leadership and building a high-performance culture. He lives in Seattle, WA.
About the author
This is the inspirational story of how the USA Volleyball team strove for and ultimately won Olympic gold medals in 1984. Murray worked with the coaches and players of that volleyball team. His goal was to get the players to work together and, he writes, “I got to watch a group of individuals become a team and, in the process, became the best in what they did.” Murray’s book is meticulously researched –much of it based on the author’s interviews with coaches and players. Head Coach Doug Beal worked with team psychologists to find creative solutions to team building. One such creative solution was to send the team on an Outward Bound expedition to build resilience; the players were required to undertake a three-week, 100-mile hike in freezing temperatures in the Canyonlands and Abajo Mountains in Utah. Murray writes of the game and how they won, the medal ceremony, and receiving great acclaim. Murray also discusses the players’ lives after earning Olympic gold. A very intriguing and exciting book about the road to an Olympic win and how crucial developing teamwork is to a winning team. Highly recommended.
Sean Murray's deeply reported If Gold Is Our Destiny reveals the inner workings of a team as well as any book I have ever encountered. In telling the story of the 1984 gold medal-winning US men's volleyball team, Murray deftly reveals how a group of individuals were able to set aside individual goals and embrace a single purpose. Terrific sports history!
This is a story about how the impossible was overcome with vision, boldness, huge egos, creativity, talent, a singular common goal, and relentless leadership...and maybe a bit of luck. Sean Murray captures the essence of this epic endeavor. He brings out the colorful personalities, conflicts, and challenges overcome. Ultimately, this dysfunctional group became very functional, and, together, reached their common goal. Two words: Inspiring. Entertaining. It is well written. A terrific read.
This book reminds us that we are capable of more than we know, as individuals, as teams, and as institutions. Sometimes all we need is a book like this to spark the inspiration we need to perform at another level.
The volleyball world owes a debt of gratitude to Sean Murray for coming up with the idea for this book and following through. And you don't have to be a volleyball fan to love the story. But if you are, you need to re-acquaint yourself with what turned out to be a team for the ages.
The story of that team is told quite well in this book. No doubt readers old enough to remember those days will enjoy hearing another perspective on those times. Everyone else will get a good sense of where the US national team program has come from, which is a sharp contrast to what it looks like today. And I feel like those in other countries where volleyball is not such a big sport might find some inspiration there. I’d definitely give If Gold Is Our Destiny a read.
The United States men’s volleyball team that won the Olympic Gold Medal in Los Angeles in 1984 is rightfully considered one of the most iconic teams in the history of the sport. And yet its story has sadly drifted from the consciousness of most (all) volleyball fans. Sean Murray, himself a sports psychologist, is the son of one of the team psychologists who played an integral part in shaping a disparate group with no history of success into the team we know about today. Having grown up with the story, he is perfectly placed to write about the team, and so he has with the new book If Gold Is Our Destiny: How a Team of Mavericks Came Together for Olympic Glory. I can heartily recommend it.
5/14/22, Sports Book Review: This book was featured in a roundup of upcoming sports titles in 2022.
6/30/22, Volleyball Mag: An excerpt from the book has been posted.
7/19/22, Red Rock Morning Show: Sean Murray talked about this book in this episode.
7/13/22, Outward Bound Colorado: This blog post featured the book.
7/27/22, San Juan Record: The release of the book was featured.
7/28/22, San Diego Union-Tribune: Sean Murray and some of the players from the 1984 team were interviewed in this feature about the release of the book.
8/18/22 Off the Podium Podcast: Sean Murray was interviewed about the book.
9/18/22, Authority Magazine: Sean Murray participated in a Q&A and the book is highlighted.
10/13/22, The USA Volleyball Show: Sean P. Murray talked about some volleyball legends.
12/28/22, SANDCAST Podcast: Sean Murray was interviewed about the book.
1/5/23, The Great Coaches Podcast: Sean Murray discussed the book and the topic of underdogs.