Volleyball Champions

May 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

On May 21, morning announcements began with the following exciting words:
“What the Lakers and Clippers couldn’t do on Saturday, the Phantoms did: they won! For the first time in Cathedral’s history, we are CIF Southern Section Division 4 Volleyball Champions!”

On Saturday, May 19, at Cypress College, the Phantoms took a quick two-game lead in the championship series. A third straight win might have looked easy, but momentum shifts quickly, and suddenly the defending champion Santa Monica Vikings tied the series with two wins of their own. As school president Martin Farfan related the story, hearing the enthusiastic Cathedral fans chant, “We believe!” was inspiring, regardless of the outcome. After several match points, and – according to the Alumni Association account – “a few fans asking for a defibrillator,” the Phantoms finished their season with a championship plaque.

Who are these players who, for the first time in Cathedral’s history, have brought home a division championship in volleyball? Sophomores Alejandro Albarran, Jonathan Alvarez, Jeremy Calleja, Steven Sosa, and David Escobedo; juniors Justin Adelmann, Michael Limon, Matthew Ortiz, Ryan Sagucio, and Clemente Arias; seniors Nick Ochoa, Ivan Palomera, Ernest Gurule, Matthew Malinoski, Jonathan Calleja, and Aaron Bautista.

Since 2004 Cathedral alumnus Mike Godoy (Class of 1997) has been coach of the varsity team [see Purple Letter of September 13, 2010]. He is well known for his work with freshmen, his interest going beyond the introductory speech and pre-algebra courses he teaches. Not only is he activities moderator and academic counselor for the freshman class, but he also supervises freshmen and their tutors in the Morning Program. His desire to make the freshman experience not only memorable but successful is evident.

But this story is only peripherally about the coach. It’s really about the volleyball program at Cathedral. Mr. Godoy’s philosophy of coaching is somewhat unorthodox for those expecting a martinet. “I want to build trust” with the members of the team, he says, so “we work around the occasional detention,” or, if necessary, players will choose a Saturday detention, so they do not miss practice. In addition, there is “no penalty for being late to practice” if the student brings a note from the teacher he was seeing. “They want to be there [at practice],” he explained. He added two assistants, Deon Jones and Megan Rush, to help him prepare the team for the playoffs.

He and his assistants (currently Shawn Cui for the frosh and Cat Avila for the JV) have built an impressive program without off-campus recruiting or mandatory study hall. “Our teams are entirely home-grown,” he says proudly. “If I see a kid who’s not involved in activities, and he looks like he might do well, I suggest that he give volleyball a try. If he comes to practice, great; if he doesn’t, I don’t resent his decision.” Moreover, fourteen of his sixteen varsity players are on the “A” or “B” Honor Roll, and several of them are taking AP or Honors classes as well.

This is not to imply that volleyball is easy, however. Players need to develop techniques the average spectator is not aware of. “We have plays,” he explains, and the boys need to develop stamina because the game “depends on momentum.” Only six players are on the court at a time, and it is hard play, whether the situation requires “a dive, a jump, or a sprint.” It’s “a roller coaster of emotions and physical exertion.”

“But now that we have a championship,” he concluded, “more teams may be willing to play us.”

We are lucky to have someone with Mr. Godoy’s zeal and passion.

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