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Kevin Hambly

Kevin Hambly

Stanford volleyball coach | 178-86, 6 NCAA tourney trips at Illinois

It was a weekend night in volleyball’s offseason, making it a good bet that wherever Kevin Hambly was, loud music was playing.

“I love watching live music,” says Hambly, who took six of eight Illini teams to the NCAA tournament and led Stanford to the 2018 national title. “One of my favorite places to visit and listen to live music was The Canopy Club. I loved catching Trampled by Turtles, Joe Pug and especially Andrew Bird there.

“One time, I was with my brothers-in-law and we just finished a concert on a Saturday night after midnight.  This was before Uber. We called a taxi and waited for 30 minutes for a taxi that never came. So we went to find one. The only place where there was activity was on Green Street — on campus.

“So we are walking down Green Street at about 1 a.m. and all I am thinking is: Please don’t get recognized by anyone.

Fat chance.

“Of course, three college students run up and want to get their picture taken with me. I was horrified, worried about this being posted somewhere on social, and my boss firing me on Monday morning.

“We ended up hiding in a fast food place on Green, almost laying down peering into the street with just the top of our heads showing, looking for a taxi to chase down Green Street and get home. We were there until around 2 a.m., when we finally found a taxi and literally sprinted down the street to catch it.

“Finally home. Thank goodness for Lyft and Uber.”

Other than Huff Gym — where Hambly spent much of his 13 years here (five as Don Hardin’s assistant, eight as his successor) — the first C-U spot that comes to mind is the courtyard that runs behind Pekara, the Blind Pig and Aroma Cafe.

“We lived within walking distance and our favorite thing on a weekend, when I was there and the weather complied, was to walk downtown and grab breakfast, beer or a coffee.

"When I think of our kids growing up in Champaign it is where I picture them.”