“If you’d like to chat about our varsity volleyball teams’ 200 victories, that conversation needed to happen at least six years ago, said veteran teacher and coach Felix Alberto when asked to talk numbers at the conclusion of another championship season.
This fall, coach Felix and the entire school celebrated his 250th official BFS Girls Varsity Volleyball coaching victory going back to his first season in the fall of 1997. “From 1997-2003, our Varsity team participated in two leagues, had winning records and playoff participation every year, going undefeated, and averaging over 15 victories a few times,” he recalled. In the fall of 2004, Athletic Director David Gardella instituted a comprehensive team statistics program, and the 250th tally was duly recorded and celebrated with students, coaches and teachers at the end-of-fall-season celebration.
In 2009, Felix was inducted into the Girls Independent School Athletic League (GISAL) Coaching Hall of Fame. “It’s more a recognition of the years of success our teams have had since 1997 than a reflection of me personally,” he stated humbly at the time. “It’s interesting because the only thing I knew is that we’d pretty much won something every year since 1997 but I didn’t know exactly.”
He recalled several special moments over the previous decades, the first one being when the team actually started believing they were good enough to win championships. “In ’99 and 2000 we were undefeated. Every year since then the girls knew they were responsible for upholding this legacy.”
Felix also gushed about those who won this honor with him. “If this is a recognition of success, it’s a recognition of all the girls who’ve been in the program. The athletic directors have done a lot of great work, All coaches and assistant coaches for Middle School and JV teams have done a lot of great work preparing our athletes to compete at the Varsity level,” he said. “I’ve had the honor to coach with many adults in this community, and alums who have returned to join our coaching staff through the years, who all show great passion for the game.”
His impact on school life doesn’t start and end with the gymnasiums. He also teaches fifth and ninth grade Spanish. “Teaching Spanish helps keep me in touch with my culture and pass it on to non-Spanish speaking people,” he said. He also explained his approach to teaching Physical Education classes. “I believe that every student shows talent and ability in some aspect of physical education, so they can have success and build on that. In addition, I stress how important physical activity and fitness are not just while they’re students but for their entire lives.”
Felix praised the Quaker approach to competitive sports for making girls volleyball so popular among students. “BFS volleyball is special. We don’t recruit players; we teach whoever we get, whoever wants to learn, challenge herself, and play to the best of her abilities. I love the challenge of putting teams together of different abilities and have them play as a unit. I enjoy the fact that here I get to coach the sport I love, to athletes who love the sport.”
He attributed his years-long commitment to BFS to this strong sense of community. “When I first came here, it was like every new job — you don’t know what to expect. At the beginning it was like a roller coaster. As I learned more about the culture and earned the support of the administration, I understood that this was a good place to be. I loved the freedom that I had, and the opportunities,” he said. “It gave me a chance to excel at the things that I love, that I’m passionate about.”
Looking ahead to his third decade of volleyball coaching, Felix is happy to be getting more young men in on the action. “I’m glad to see that the sport has caught up with our boys,” he said. “In 2011, a group of students wanted to have a boys volleyball team. Now, with our Athletic Director’s support, we have a well-established and competitive team that has had winning records since its inaugural year. We’ve won the league and-or the playoffs in the ACIS and PSAA.”
What more could a volleyball fan ask for?