Lowcountry Volleyball Legend Al Stern Passes Away At 84

Allan Stern, a former Beaufort County School Board member and the driving force behind the local volleyball scene for more than 20 years, died Friday after battling pneumonia. He was 84.

Stern recently was announced as a member of the inaugural Athletics Hall of Fame class at Bluffton High School, where he was the school’s first volleyball coach and built the program into a perennial powerhouse. The Bobcats won the Class 3A state title in 2007 — Stern’s fourth year at the helm — and finished as state runner-up in 2005 and 2009. 

“He had the unique ability, even being much older, to make a connection with these young ladies and get the most out of them on the court,” former Bluffton High athletics director Dave Adams said. “He mastered the art of running a complete volleyball program. The girls will always remember the lessons of life they learned from Coach Stern. He was a great coach.”

His impact on the sport of volleyball reached throughout the Lowcountry, though. Stern helped found the Lowcountry Volleyball Club in 1996 and continued as its director until his death. He also coached at Hilton Head High for one season and Hilton Head Prep for three seasons prior to being elected to the Beaufort County School Board, and served as a volleyball official.

“Coach Stern has been a mentor to so many players and coaches over the years,” Lowcountry Volleyball Club board member Katie Cox said. “His love for sports and passion for volleyball was truly remarkable.  His selflessness and dedication to teach others about the game he loved will never be forgotten and will live on through the many lives he touched.”

Stern’s passion for volleyball also led him to volunteer with the county’s recreational program and the Senior Games and serve on the Beaufort County Parks and Leisure Services board.

“This mad had a true dedication to children and had none of his own,” Beaufort County PALS director Shannon Loper said. “Those gems are very hard to come by. … You can’t imagine the amount of time he put in.”

Stern discovered volleyball while serving in the U.S. Army at Fort Sill in Oklahoma and continued to play the sport competitively for more than 40 years. He retired from the Army after 28 years and worked on government contracts in the intelligence field until retiring to the Lowcountry in 1996. 

He also was a leader of the Athletic Club of the Lowcountry, serving as its treasurer in recent years.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Lowcountry Presbyterian Church, 10 Simmonsville Rd., Bluffton. Military honors and burial will follow at 1 p.m. in Beaufort National Cemetery.

One thought on “Lowcountry Volleyball Legend Al Stern Passes Away At 84

  1. I was on the Volleyball of the Low Country team in 1996 & 1997. Coach Stern ignited a passion for volleyball that is still with me today. I ran into Coach Stern nearly 10 years after playing for him and he still remembered me!
    You will be missed Coach Stern!
    Cori Bray

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