Holding court

In seven years as a multi-sport coach at George Washington, Chris Reid has won six league titles, including the last four in boys volleyball.

  • More members of the G.W. volleyball team (from left): Mark Poberezhnyuk, Public League MVP Danny Pareskevov and Igor Radov. ED MORRONE / TIMES PHOTO

  • Throw your four’s up: Members of the George Washington volleyball team signal the amount of consecutive Class AAA and Public League championships the program has won. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

  • He’s got the hardware: Washington boys volleyball coach Chris Reid soaks it in after his team defeated Central for the Class AAA title and La Salle for the District XII city title. The Eagles have won the last four Class AAA and league titles, going a stunning 76-10 since 2009. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

With all of the sup­port­ers he has, hav­ing an un­in­ter­rup­ted con­ver­sa­tion with Chris Re­id is no easy task.

Re­id, the boys vol­ley­ball, girls bas­ket­ball and boys soc­cer coach at George Wash­ing­ton, has had an in­or­din­ate amount of ath­let­ic suc­cess at the school in his sev­en years. His ac­com­plished Eagles soc­cer pro­gram has won two Pub­lic League titles and is usu­ally a main­stay in the league cham­pi­on­ship game. 

Re­id will be the first to tell you that soc­cer is his top sport, but it’s what he’s done with the vol­ley­ball pro­gram that has so many people in­side Wash­ing­ton buzz­ing. While boys vol­ley­ball is far from ubi­quit­ous on the high school ath­let­ics radar of most, that hasn’t stopped the Eagles from rack­ing up a 76-10 over­all re­cord since 2009, with four of the 10 de­feats com­ing in the state tour­na­ment.

They’ve won four con­sec­ut­ive Pub­lic League titles, and this year took it one step fur­ther, win­ning the first true city cham­pi­on­ship over La Salle on May 22 (the Cath­ol­ic League ad­ded boys vol­ley­ball as a com­pet­it­ive sport this year). Four straight league titles and Class AAA cham­pi­on­ships rep­res­ents the real deal.

“His kids have a will­ing­ness to work hard for him,” said Wash­ing­ton coun­selor Adam Bach­mann, the school’s former girls ten­nis coach who crashed an in­ter­view with Re­id to of­fer his sup­port. “I took my four kids, ages 8, 4, 3 and 1, to go and sup­port him in their state play­off loss (May 28 against Hemp­field) be­cause I love to watch what he’s done with these kids. He teaches them that when they get knocked down, they don’t have to stay down.”

Bach­mann even roun­ded up three G.W. alumni — former base­ball play­ers Jake Wright and Corey Sharp, as well as former class pres­id­ent Alv­in Oom­men — who happened to be walk­ing the halls that day, to share their own pos­it­ive memor­ies of Re­id. Mike McKin­ney, a Wash­ing­ton wrest­ling coach, also popped his head in to say Re­id should be named a coach of the year for something.

For Re­id’s part, he lets his play­ers — 27 of them from 16 dif­fer­ent coun­tries — and their skills on the court do the talk­ing. He is not boast­ful, des­pite his team’s dom­in­ance dur­ing his ten­ure. For a guy with no vol­ley­ball back­ground to speak of, the res­ults have been stun­ning.

“I stud­ied and had a lot of fun. I really fell in love with the sport that first year,” Re­id said. “Soc­cer is my sport, but when vol­ley­ball hits, it’s just stress-free. It’s been very re­ward­ing, and I’ve been blessed with great kids that want to play, work hard and get bet­ter. We all help each oth­er out.”

Re­id has in­deed been blessed,, and some strokes of good luck have also been in­volved. He’s got­ten some kids who have had pri­or ex­per­i­ence in the sport, be it from Baldi Middle School’s feed­er pro­gram, or trans­fers/trans­plants who have played it in their nat­ive coun­try. 

Danny Pareskevov is a four-year starter, and this year’s league MVP; he and team­mate Alex Polyak have won four con­sec­ut­ive titles to­geth­er. Oth­er key play­ers have been sopho­more cap­tain Joffy Joseph, the team’s set­ter who “runs the show on the court,” ac­cord­ing to Re­id; there’s also the Most Im­proved Play­er, sopho­more Mark Poberezhny­uk, ju­ni­or de­fens­ive spe­cial­ist Kakra Sang and seni­or front-row hit­ter Edis­on Wilson.

In vol­ley­ball, the play­ers on the court op­er­ate as in­de­pend­ent cogs in one big ma­chine. There are de­fens­ive spe­cial­ists on the back line who are skilled pass­ers, and set­ters whose job it is to put the ball in good po­s­i­tion for the front-row hit­ters, who are charged with spik­ing the ball over the net. Re­id has re­ceived a ton of guid­ance and tu­tel­age from vo­lun­teer as­sist­ant Ali­yar Sherif, an ex­per­i­enced vol­ley­ball mind from In­dia, where the sport is very pop­u­lar.

“We have pass­ers, hit­ters, block­ers … we take each kid’s strengths and mish-mash them to­geth­er,” Re­id said.

Re­id’s play­ers, both young­er and older, have had the time of their lives un­der his watch­ful eye.

“My fresh­man year, there were 14 or 15 play­ers; now, there’s 27,” said team mem­ber Jith­in Paul. “It’s be­come more pop­u­lar every year.”

“He’s al­ways on our side, al­ways fired up, al­ways wants to push the team to do bet­ter no mat­ter what,” said Pareskevov. 

Ad­ded seni­or Ig­or Radov: “What sets him apart is that he forces you to be bet­ter, even when you’re on top. There is no com­pla­cency. It’s al­ways fun. I wish I had got­ten here soon­er.”

Re­id hopes high school vol­ley­ball con­tin­ues to grow and ex­pand in Phil­adelphia. The Cath­ol­ic League should help, but the coach said there needs to be more clubs and op­por­tun­it­ies for kids to play at a young­er age. When they find the sport, they’ll fall in love with it, the same way Re­id did.

“I want the kids to en­joy them­selves and get bet­ter,” he said. “It wasn’t about win­ning titles when I star­ted and it isn’t now. It’s a fun, life­time sport you can keep play­ing as you get older. We’re all a part of this thing to­geth­er.” ••

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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