GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan Pro Volleyball, a new women’s sports franchise set to debut in February 2024, introduced Cathy George as the team’s first head coach on Monday.

George is Michigan State’s all-time winningest head volleyball coach, leading the team for 17 seasons. Her storied coaching career spans 35 years, which includes 11 seasons at Western Michigan. 

“I love the building. I feel like I’ve always been put into positions at different schools where it’s been a rebuilding process, and so this is right in line with that,” George said. “I know I don’t know everything, so I’ll look to people that can help me along the way. I know I’ll do everything I can to make this successful.” 

With the Spartans, George led the program to 10 appearances in the NCAA Tournament and reached the Elite Eight in 2017. The Spartans also made seven consecutive NCAA Tournaments from 2011-17, which is the second-longest streak in program history. George retired from coaching after nearly two decades with MSU, but the opportunity to lead a pro women’s volleyball franchise in the United States was an opportunity too good to pass up. 

“I’ve had a lot of players that have played for my teams overseas, and there’s a lot of them that didn’t because they didn’t want to go away,” George said. “This is the opportunity for our best athletes to stay here and compete against each other and to feel like they’re a pro program within the United States. It’s going to be pretty special.”  

When West Michigan Pro Volleyball started its hunt for the organization’s first head coach, they knew they wanted a female coach to lead the women’s pro franchise and someone with strong ties to the state. 

“We are thrilled to have secured a volleyball coach of the highest caliber for our team,” said Scott Gorsline, executive vice president of family investments for DP Fox, the parent company of West Michigan Pro Volleyball. “Having been a head coach at the Division I level in Michigan for 28 years, Cathy is among the most highly qualified, accomplished, and respected volleyball coaches in the state, and she’s well-known to volleyball people both here and around the country.” 

With the inaugural season less than a year away, George plans to use the upcoming months to build a staff and scout players ahead of the team’s first practice in January. 

Grand Rapids was the first city to announce a franchise under the Pro Volleyball Federation, with Atlanta, Omaha, Nebraska, and Columbus, Ohio, also announced this year. The Pro Volleyball Federation will launch its first season in 8-10 markets starting in February 2024.