Saturday, 9 December 2023

International Volleyball

What a ride the past year has been for first-year UCLA coach Alfee Reft

What a ride the past year has been for first-year UCLA coach Alfee Reft

No matter how this season turns out, as UCLA heads into the home stretch and vies for an NCAA Tournament bid, what a whirlwind of a year it’s been for Alfee Reft.

And in the middle of it all there was this one five-week stretch where he alternated between his UCLA program and the USA women’s national team as it prepared for and then qualifiied for the Olympcs.

“It was the most challening thing that I’ve done professionally, but probably the most rewarding and fulfilling,” Reft said. “And I really mean this, when you get to work with people like Karch and Tama (Miyashiro) and Erin (Virtue) and Marv (Dunphy) and coming here to UCLA where we’re building something so great and have equally a great staff,” he paused and laughed, “I try not to take a lot of time to think about the rigor of what we’re doing but there’s so much purpose on the line it keeps you going.

“So I haven’t thought a lot about what that was, you’re just putting one foot in front of the other.”

Eleven months ago, Reft capped a three-season run as an assistant at San Diego with that program’s first trip to the NCAA national semifinals. 

Four days later, he got his first head-coaching job, taking over the storied UCLA program.

That was just the beginning.

In addition to UCLA, Reft is one of Karch Kiraly’s USA national-team assistants. He joined the USA program after the Americans won gold in Tokyo. And all that entailed this year was playing Volleyball Nations League (in Türkiye, Brazil, Korea and Arlington, Texas); the NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship in Quebec City, Canada; and, finally, the FIVB Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifier in Lodz, Poland, at which the USA won and qualified for the 2024 Olympics.

But it wasn’t that simple for Reft, who during the NORCECA tournament missed UCLA matches, and then missed more during the qualifying tournament.

We visited with him last week in Pullman, Washington, before the Bruins played Washington State.

VNL ended in on July 16, at which point Reft got back to UCLA, six weeks before the start of the NCAA season.

UCLA practice began in early August and at the same the USA women were preparing for NORCECA. 

Reft began his college career at UC Santa Barbara and finished at Hawa’i, where he was a standout libero for coach Carl McGown. He played professionally for seven years, from Montegro to Portugal to France, and built up time as a player and coach in the USA gym on both the…

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