Frank Stranzl

Jon Stevenson is the men’s volleyball coach. The team is off to an 8-3 start, 1-1 in Big West play. Here is what Stevenson had to say this week:

I will never forget this special time in my life… way back in 1985, before many of you were born, when Mott Gym rocked, when the women’s volleyball team took the floor.

At that time I was in my prime as a professional volleyball player, and I was invited to be part of a promotional serving contest between games two and three of the Cal Poly versus UCLA match. They were the top two ranked teams in the nation. Believe it, Cal Poly was No. 1 and UCLA No. 2! The promotion was called “ACE THE WIZ.” I was the Wiz, which was the name of a one-hour photo developing business downtown (that has gone the way of the dinosaur). People were picked from a raffle to try to serve a ball that I could not touch. If that happened, they would win a VCR. Most of the serves went into the net, but one guy nearly aced me when I leaned the wrong way and he hit this majorly catorted jump serve that was out wide of the right side line by a few inches. Suffice it to say, the owner of the WIZ was stoked that he did not have to pay out to a lucky winner.

Anyway, the point is that volleyball matches were a major social/entertainment/sporting event back then and some of the all-time greats who are still around SLO – Sandy Aughinbaugh, Marie Lundy Salyer, Claudia Hemmersback Trudeau were bringing national acclaim to Poly. Fast forward twenty years to my interview last February and I told the hiring committee that I believe we can get that energy and pride back here with a great volleyball program. Last Saturday, against Santa Barbara confirmed that it is happening. I am so grateful to all of those who showed up and I am equally excited about the future of the program.

So, as the new women’s volleyball coach at Cal Poly, I want to express my genuine appreciation for the support of our student body, our administrators, fellow coaches, and the band who were among the near 1,200 people who showed up to see our girls beat on the dreaded Gauchos. It was so much fun and I can tell you all that it was a major personal goal that I did not expect to happen so fast.

We are just starting to get this going, and by no means do we think we can compare to those great teams who have worn the Green and Gold for Poly over the years. But we work hard every day to be a source of pride for all of you. It is hard to understand how much all the student-athletes at Poly invest into their preparation to compete. I can tell you that it means a ton to see you people come out to represent Poly. We need you again! As we go into this important weekend of conference play against UC Irvine (Friday at 7:00 p.m.) and Long Beach State (Saturday at 7:00 p.m.), I urge the student body to come support our volleyball team. You people make a huge difference! A raucous and energized boost from our fans gives us a huge advantage that we do not take lightly. We can pack Mott Gym the same way I remember it being when Poly’s volleyball team was ranked No.1 in the nation. It is a good time and while I am biased, I think it is great to watch. So, thanks again to everyone who became the “7th player” and I hope you felt like you shared in the win. There will be more to come with your support! Finally, I will see you all at our other sporting events when our season is done. What a great place to go to school!

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