This past Friday, Woodcrest Christian alumni returned to campus and played against the Varsity Boys Volleyball team in this year’s Alumni Volleyball match. Out of the 18 alumni players, which included the father-son duo Matt (‘89) and Cameron Albee (‘19), seven were alumni who played on Coach Ricard’s 2014 team who clinched a record 105 consecutive wins.
As the first match of the night began, the 2014 alumni squad played first for the alumni team and things instantly picked up right where they left off eight years ago. Alumni quickly recalled formations, showed court chemistry, remembered blocking patterns, serve types, and volleyball techniques and were playing like it was yesterday. Alumni Daniel Olgilvie (‘14) recalls, “It was an incredible experience getting to play at the alumni game, catching up with teammates from other classes and meeting new alumni I had never met before. It was extremely fun playing with all the other guys from the class of 2014. It felt like we didn’t skip a beat and our team chemistry was reignited in an instant. Though we weren’t as sharp as we may have been 8 years ago, it was special playing textbook volleyball in front of coach (Burdett) who taught many of us the fundamentals a decade ago! I wish Coach Ricards could have been there too!”
Coach Ricards obviously made an impact on the players of what he called the “the ultimate team game.” He shared in a 2011 Press Enterprise interview, “In volleyball, you have to have someone, or in most cases, two people assist you. You need the first pass, the great set, and maybe another teammate with a fake so you can go up and pound it. One person cannot carry a team.”
Not only has this principle stayed with our alumni, but it seems to be shared off the court as well. Something is special about the Woodcrest Christian alumni in the sportsman-like camaraderie shown. Dave Burdett, who has been teaching at Woodcrest Christian since 1977 and coaching volleyball since 1978 offered this observation about our grads:
“WCS alumni–whether they play sports or not–possess something not found at most schools, private or public. There is a sense of family here that has now developed into something generational. That’s reflected in the fact that 23% of our staff are returning alumni. As many stalwart teachers retire or move out of state, their roles have been carried forth by Woodcrest Christian graduates. This is just one example of the familial legacy our alumni tend to leave.” His words were confirmed as he watched players from 1989 to 2020 – many of whom he had coached – come back and compete with each other.
Woodcrest Christian alumni Alex Wright (‘19) shared about the night, “Being a freshman on a highly skilled primarily senior dominant team, I didn’t get to play much but still loved my teammates which often felt like family. I was the little brother of the team, and was able to learn so much from guys. Seeing everyone at the alumni game was a family reunion of sorts.”
Overall, Friday night accomplished what Woodcrest Christian wishes for all alumni. We hope to connect — connect alumni to their roots, their stories as students at Woodcrest Christian, but also to each other, and what better way than through sports. The Royals Pavilion not only had alumni on the court, but alumni fans and families sprinkled through the crowd celebrating an alumni victory. (Fans at one point were generationally unified by enthusiastically doing the Royals Rumble in the crowd!)
Looking forward, we hope to continue to make connections with our alumni through a variety of activities whether that be sports, the arts, or academics, but ultimately we hope that it is centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thanks to all the alumni who came out, see you guys next time!
1989 – Matt Albee
2001 – Laird Musich
2014 – Steven Alexander, Dante Chupek, Luke Knapp, Ryan Morse, Daniel Ogilvie, Brett Prater, Justin White
2017 – Cameron Albee, Pierce Chupek, Ian Dodson, Johnny Tillman, Alex Wright
2018 – John (JP) Hanna, Ethan Melvin
2019 – Grant Calhoun
2020 – Silas Sheffer