2003 USA Volleyball
Golden Pen Award Winner

Thang Nguyen

This award recognizes the individual deemed as the most outstanding USA National scorer at the previous year’s USA Open Championship Event.

Thang Nguyen, a resident of Galveston County, Texas for the past 28 years, grew up in Texas City, Texas after immigrating from his native country of Vietnam before it's fall to communism.  He now lives in League City, Texas which is about 20 minutes south of Houston.

Nguyen's first experience to volleyball officiating began in the fall of 1994 when a local junior college coach, Galveston College, asked him to come out and keep score for a tournament.  He showed up courtside and the coach put the scoresheets down in front of him.  He thought keeping score was just flipping the score or working the scoreboard.  He had no idea as to what a scoresheet was or how to use one either.  With the help of one of the referees assigned to the match, Rich Richardson, he was given a "crash" course in scorekeeping and had on the job training for the remainder of the tournament and has been keeping score ever since. 

Nguyen joined the Lone Star Region of USVBA in 1995.  He has played on several mens teams with varying levels of play; anywhere from B, BB, and A.  He only got USAV certified to fulfill a region requirement that every region team had to have at least one certified referee and one certified scorekeeper per team.  He's been active in the local Houston boys club volleyball scene as well starting with Club Texas Boys, South Shore VBC, and currently Houston Volleyball Academy.

He was keeping score for a match at the same junior college around late 1996 when a referee unknown to him at the time came up and said, " So when are you going to come to one of my clinics to get certified?"  He replied by saying, " Certify? I already know how to keep score."  The referee turned out to be Steve Crane, Lone Star Region Scorekeeper Chairman, National Commissioner RVA Scorekeeper Development, and the 2003 Lauten Scorekeeper Service Award Winner.  This put things in motion as Thang received his Provisional Scorekeeper in 1997, Regional Scorekeeper in 1998, and Jr. National Scorekeeper rating in 1998 at the JO's in Dallas.  In 1999, he was asked to go get his USA National Scorekeeper rating in San Jose, Ca. at the Open Championships. 

He's very grateful in having such experienced raters along the way including Dixie Collins, Jeff Hoppen, Dee Yoe, and JoAnn Peters for his JN.  Also his raters/mentors for his National were Dixie Collins, Cathy Hoy, Terry Lawton, and Kim Williams. 

In 2001 at the Opens in Milwaukee, he was qualified as an International Indoor Scorekeeper.  He attained his USA National Outdoor Scorekeeper rating at the USA Open Beach Championships in Virginia Beach, Va. the same year. 

Along his volleyball officiating path, he has also picked up some referee ratings.  He was certified as a USA Jr. National Referee in 2001, USA Certified Beach Referee in 2001, and a PAVO National Referee in 2002.  He had plenty of help from many Nationals within the region: Thomas Hoy, Joe Campbell, John Kimmel, Gloria Cox, Fred Buehler, Mary Blalock, Ted Lopez, Gordon Morrison, Carlos Rodriguez, Ronnie Kaase, Dale Young, Linda Fletcher, Eric Houston, and Will Vick. 

Nguyen is active in the Lone Star Region.  Since 1999, he has mentored and trained members as a clinician and rater.  He has served as a tournament director, head referee, and official's assignor.  He did some local jr. college assigning for 2 years.  He is currently the assignor for the Houston area private school boys league.  He has been active in every USAV Championships since 1999 as a scorekeeper at the Opens and a scorekeeper monitor for Sue Mailhot and referee at the Jr. Nationals. 

Nguyen's achievements include being an official at the World Police and Fire Games in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 2001; scorekeeper, USA Men vs. Australia Tour in Louisville, Kentucky in 2002; scorekeeper, USA Men vs. Canada Tour in Louisville, Kentucky in 2002; scorekeeper, USA Men vs. Italy Tour in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in 2002 before the team went to the World Championships in Argentina; and being asked to be on the National Rating Team for scorekeepers at the Minneapolis Opens in 2003.  Additionally, Nguyen keeps score and line judges at Rice University and on occasion at the University of Houston.  He currently officiates in the Southland Conference.  He was selected as a referee for a NAIA Regional and NJCAA District Tournament.

He would like to thank his region for sending him to get his certification, all the officials who nominated him at the Dallas Opens in 2002, and to the USA National Scorekeeper Commission for presenting him with the first ever inaugural Golden Pen Award.