Alumni Stories

WAB Alum Joins Brown University's Volleyball Team

By Richard Wong, Brown University


This was me, the one on the far right in the back row, 5 years ago. The tall fellow next to me is Li Peng, our head coach. That year, I rode the bench and scored something like two points the whole season. I didn't really know what was happening or what I was doing; my friend Joseph just told me to show up to practice, so I did. It turned out to be the best decision I'd ever made.

The thing about me is that I'm not tall. I'm not fast. I'm not athletic. But I have reached the next level of my game, earning a spot on Brown University's volleyball team.

I learned to read the game from the coach's perspective. I wanted to understand every rotation and every technique to out-smart opponents. I've watched so many hours of game tape it's absurd. (Sabrina Krebs can back me up on this, as we always watched volleyball together at the end of math class.) I became familiar with world-class volleyball and how it's played. I watched the top setters in the game and how they run their offenses. I tried to imitate them when I had to set a play that I had never even attempted in practice. Imitating them pushed me harder to grasp their abilities, and it was enough to convince myself and the team and coaches at Brown University that I was good enough to compete.

Balancing music, athletics and academics was easy at WAB. Every discipline allowed room for the others, and there was no time conflict. Now, every day of the week, I either have practice or weight training, while trying to balance my studies and continue my musical education. I wasn't able to join the wind symphony, as it is a direct time conflict with volleyball practice. Students are well-rounded here, learning in an open curriculum, but eventually focus on one area.

And that topic is what I'd like to talk to WAB students about: Always keep all of your interests alive, and don't give up on anything. WAB is the best place for you to pursue all your dreams, in the arts, athletics or academics, before you pursue a particular concentration. Take advantage of the opportunities to explore.