By Spencer Stueve
On August 5, 2016, John Speraw was in a place one can never truly get used to. He was at the Olympics, representing the United States men’s volleyball team at the opening ceremony. It was not Speraw’s first time at the Olympics, nor was it the first time he had been in the spotlight. For almost 30 years, Speraw has been a star in the sport of volleyball, both as a player and a coach, and that night, standing in Rio de Janiero, was the culmination of a career that began in Arcadia.
In 1988, Speraw was just a sophomore at Arcadia when the Apaches did something they had only done one other time in school history, win a CIF championship in volleyball. Led by Coach Chuck Freberg, the Apaches would again win the CIF Division II championship two years later. Speraw, who was now a senior, was the best player on the team, and one of the best in America. After graduation, he moved on to UCLA, and success was sure to follow him along the way.
At UCLA, Speraw won two National Championships as a player under legendary Head Coach Al Scates, who won 19 National Championships in 48 years as the Bruins’ coach. Speraw would soon follow in Scates’ footsteps. After serving as an assistant coach at multiple stops, including UCLA and USA Volleyball, Speraw became the Head Coach at UC Irvine in 2007 and won three National Championships in six years.
Speraw has since returned to his alma mater, replacing Scates upon his retirement at the end of the 2012 season, and remained active with USA Volleyball. In 2016, he led the USA team to the bronze medal at the Olympics, adding to his already impressive resume. He is the only individual to win an NCAA championship as a player, assistant coach, and Head Coach. He looks to add more to his list of accomplishments in the future. The boy from Arcadia High still strives to bring a National title back to Westwood, and in 2020, he hopes to bring the gold medal back to America.