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Walt Ker is building the next generation of volleyball stars

Posted: July 17, 2009 9:46 p.m.
Updated: July 18, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Walt Ker founded the Legacy Volleyball Club in 2008.

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Ask any local volleyball player or coach about Walt Ker, and they’ll tell you the same thing.

He knows the sport inside and out.

Thanks to Legacy Volleyball Club, Ker is spreading his knowledge.

Based out of Velocity Sports Performance on Rye Canyon Road, the club is designed for both players and coaches.

Ker had been looking for a gym where he could start his own team.

When Velocity opened in the spring of 2008, he found it – and it didn’t take long for his club to generate interest.

“We had a meeting in August that was sort of a familiarization with the club, and we had about 300 people show up,” Ker said. “I was secretly hoping I would have between six and 10 teams. We ended up with 10 girls teams and four boys teams.”

Those numbers aren’t surprising considering Ker’s background. He spent 35 years coaching at California State University, Northridge, where he started the men’s volleyball program and led the women’s volleyball team to three Division II national championships.

For most of the last decade, Ker coached his three sons in club volleyball, first at the Los Angeles Athletic Club with his oldest son Tony, then later at Santa Clarita-based Synergy Volleyball Club with younger sons Kevin and Jamey.

All three of his sons coach with Legacy Volleyball.

“Walt is an outstanding coach, that’s not even up for debate,” said Ray Sanchez, girls head volleyball coach at Valencia High and a clinician for Legacy. “He’s an outstanding coach with a proven track record at a lot of levels.”

One of Ker’s teams won a national championship while at Synergy.

On July 6, one of Legacy’s teams won a Junior Olympic gold medal.

Coached by former Valencia star Sean Carter, the 15-and-under boys squad defeated Vaqueros of Puerto Rico 2-0 in the finals, with 25-22 victories in both sets.

The 16-and-under boys team also performed well, dropping a game to the eventual national champion in the gold medal bracket before winning out in the bronze bracket.

The girls, meanwhile, traveled to Phoenix in late June and early July for the Volleyball Festival, the largest amateur girls volleyball competition in the country.  

The Legacy 16-and-under team finished seventh in its age group, going 11-3 and winning 22 of 32 sets at the competition.
The 15-and-under team wound up 18th out of 93 teams.

“One really exciting thing is that we have a lot of great athletes that aren’t great volleyball players yet,” Ker said. “For them to be on the 15 and 16 (and under) teams and do that well, that bodes well for the future.”

Legacy Volleyball has a very specific regimen to help its athletes reach those levels.

Ker greatly admires former UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden, who believed that fundamentals were as important as anything.

“The most important thing is skill development, and that has to do with good biomechanics, good fundamental posture,” he said. “It’s a fundamental emphasis toward building individual fundamental skills in each athlete. That is the single most important thing.”

The athletes in Legacy Volleyball also receive two hours of Velocity training every week to improve their conditioning, a service built into their club fees.

“The real cornerstone was having a good gym, and if Velocity hadn’t opened up, I wouldn’t have taken on the team this year,” Ker said.

But Legacy Volleyball isn’t just for the players.

The club pays the coaches of each team, and it also helps them improve through an evaluation process conducted by Ker every month.

“I sit down and watch for two hours,” Ker said. “I write down every drill they do, the time frame of the drill, the words that do or don’t come out of their mouths. Afterwards, I give them a very formal evaluation of their practice, and their pay is bonused by the evaluations.”

Local coaches who work under Ker at Legacy Volleyball include Jeff Cody, who coaches the boys and girls teams at Golden Valley, West Ranch assistant Brandon Pank, former West Ranch coach Adam Kaminsky and former Hart coach Garrett Maxwell.

Sanchez helps run clinics for Legacy Volleyball but doesn’t coach one of the teams.

“When (Ker) sells his club to parents, his name and his reputation are really outstanding in the volleyball community,” Sanchez said. “He wants every kid who comes to his clinic to get his style and philosophy of coaching.”

It’s all part of Ker’s program, which was named “Legacy” and given a pyramid logo for three specific reasons.

The pyramid is a tribute to Wooden, whose major philosophy of life and sports was dubbed “the Pyramid of Success.” The pyramid is also emblematic of Ker’s three sons, with the logo broken into three pieces. And it symbolizes how Ker hopes to leave his players and coaches educated enough to be successful in the future.

“I told everyone, the one thing I know for sure is they’re going to get great training,” Ker said. “They’re paying their dues, so I want to make sure they’re getting the training. I think that’s going to set them apart from everyone else.”

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