“Gretchen’s personal experience playing at the highest levels in this sport, paired with her evident enthusiasm for helping student-athletes achieve their highest goals both physically and emotionally, quickly identified her as an ideal candidate to lead our beach volleyball program,” DeLuca said. “We are very excited to start this new chapter with Gretchen and can’t wait to see the program and the sport continue to grow.”
Hand becomes the second head coach in the history of UC Davis beach volleyball.
“I am incredibly humbled for this opportunity,” Hand said. “Thank you to our Aggies Beach Team for the warm welcome. I look forward to meeting our amazing community and growing the Aggies Beach legacy. Fiat Lux!”
Hand recently served as the head coach of the beach volleyball program at Missouri State University where she guided the Bears to a 12-16 record during the 2022 campaign.
Hand led two of the program’s best players, Grace Cook and Chloe Tome, in receiving American Volleyball Coaches Association Top-Flight Award, which recognizes excellence in collegiate beach volleyball across the country and all flights. The duo led Missouri State with a school-record 23-5 mark while playing in the No. 2 flight this season. Cook and Tome outscored their opponents 1,202-879 while 18 of their 23 victories were accomplished through sweeps.
Prior to Missouri State, Hand spent two and a half years as director of volleyball at Webber International University in Babson Park, Fla. During her tenure with the Warriors, she worked with the men’s and women’s indoor programs in addition to the beach team and contributed to the beach team’s conference title and NAIA national fourth-place finish in 2019.
Hand brings nearly 20 years of volleyball coaching experience at the high school, club, and collegiate levels to the UC Davis beach program. She worked two years at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa., where she helped develop a beach program for the community and began a beach volleyball club at Wilson. Before that, she was the head volleyball varsity coach at Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) High School.
Hand prepped at Hillsboro High School where she was volleyball team captain and earned all-conference, all-district and all-region distinction. She played collegiately at Jefferson College, New Orleans and the University of Missouri-St Louis. As an outside hitter and setter, she garnered all-conference honors in college while serving as a team-captain three of her four years. She graduated magna cum laude from UMSL with a bachelor’s degree in education in 2002.
From 2001-2015, Hand transitioned into beach volleyball by playing professionally worldwide. She had main-draw finishes in the AVP (American Volleyball Professionals), the NVL (National Volleyball League), Corona Wide Open, the EVP (Extreme Volleyball Professionals) and the FIVB, competing across the United States, Brazil, Colombia, Ireland and Thailand.
Hand was coached by beach volleyball Olympians Liz Masakyan and Holly McPeak. After a shoulder injury and surgery, she transitioned to coaching and teaching at the high school and collegiate levels, including time in the Parkway School District in St. Louis from 2002-05.