Pepperdine well-represented at Olympics

As the parade of nations entered Olympic Park during the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games, more than 10,000 athletes marched in with sheer joy and excitement. This esteemed group included eight Pepperdine student-athletes (two current and six former) who will be competing along with four Waves coaches in the XXX Olympiad.

The Pepperdine contingent is part of 104 coaches and athletes from the Southland representing the United States of America. Since 1956, more than 40 members from Pepperdine have gone on to participate in the Olympics as either a player or a coach, according to the university. A total of seven gold medals, eight silver medals and three bronze medals have been won by these past Olympians.

This summer marks another opportunity for the Waves to shine in what is arguably sport’s greatest spectacle.

Marcio Sicoli, an assistant coach for the Pepperdine women’s volleyball team, serves as the coach for Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, who will be seeking their third gold medal in women’s beach volleyball.

“It has been an honor to represent the United States,” Sicoli said moments prior to the Opening Ceremony. “Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor are ready to bring the gold home for the third Olympics in a row. I look forward to being a part of the most prestigious sports event in the world and part of beach volleyball history.”

Walsh and May-Treanor are perhaps the best beach volleyball duo of all time. Their popularity skyrocketed when they won gold medals at the 2004 Athens Games and the 2008 Beijing Games. They began their quest for a third gold medal by defeating Australians Tasmin Hinchley and five-time Olympian Natalie Cook 21-18, 21-19 last Saturday night. The American pair has never lost a set in three Olympics.

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The Pepperdine men’s volleyball team has had a distinct and prideful association with the Olympics. The Waves have contributed representatives on every team since 1984, including the gold-medal winning squads of 1984, 1988 and 2008. Between 1984 and 2008, Pepperdine has placed more players on the U.S. Olympic squad (15) than any other school in the country.

This year features Gary Sato (Pepperdine ‘78), who is serving as an assistant coach for the U.S. men’s volleyball team for the third time, and four-time All-American Sean Rooney (Pepperdine ’05). Sato coached for the American teams that won gold in 1988 and bronze in 1992. Rooney, an outside hitter, was a member of the 2008 U.S. squad that won gold in Beijing.

Waves men’s volleyball coach Marv Dunphy (Pepperdine ’74), who was honored with the U.S. Olympic Achievement Award in 2010, will be with the U.S. women’s volleyball team as a consultant coach. He led the 1988 men’s team to a gold medal as head coach and was a consultant coach for the 2008 gold medal squad.

“I’m proud and honored to be here,” said Dunphy, who is coaching at the Olympics for the sixth time. “I know how lucky I am to be part of the USA staff and to live in our great country.”

The United States men’s water polo team will also be represented by three Pepperdine graduates. U.S. coach and former Pepperdine head man Terry Schroeder (Pepperdine ’81) leads an American squad that won a silver medal in 2008. Schroeder was a four-time Olympian as a player and won silver medals in 1984 and 1988.

“It’s an amazing experience and I’m blessed to be a part of it,” said Schroeder, who will return to Pepperdine as head coach of the water polo team for the 2013 season.

Merrill Moses (Pepperdine ’00), will be making his second appearance in the Olympics and teammate Jesse Smith (Pepperdine ’05) his third. After a strong showing in goal at the Beijing Games, Moses picked up where he left off and had 11 saves in the United States’ 8-7 opening win against Montenegro last Sunday.

“All of us are very patriotic and it’s an honor to play for our country,” Moses said. “When you wear the red, white and blue and hear the national anthem being played, you are not playing for just yourself or the team but for your country. It means a lot to all of us. We definitely want to do everything possible to bring home a gold medal for our country.”

Current Pepperdine students Roxanne Barker, a senior, and Sarah Attar, a junior, will be making history in their first Olympic appearances. Barker will be representing South Africa in women’s soccer. This is the first time Pepperdine will have an athlete compete in the sport of women’s soccer.

Attar will be representing Saudi Arabia in women’s track. She is one of the first two female athletes ever to compete at the Olympics for Saudi Arabia.

Other Pepperdine Olympians include Yakhouba Diawara, France (men’s basketball, ‘05) Miranda Ayim, Canada (women’s basketball, ‘10) and Robert Lindstedt, Sweden (men’s tennis, ‘98).

13StarsManager
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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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