FAIRFIELD — When Wayne Bucaojit sees a need to be filled, especially when it comes to volleyball, he goes for the kill.
When his Fairfield High volleyball teams were routinely clobbered by Monticello Empire League rivals from Vacaville and Napa in the mid-1990s, his response was to form Club Solano as a way to introduce more girls to the sport.
Nearly 20 years later, the 56-year-old Bucaojit has stepped down as head coach at Rodriguez High School, where he spent nine solid seasons, but he’s hardly stepping away.
His goal is to raise the level of volleyball throughout the city, not just at Rodriguez, a challenge since there are currently no middle school sports in the Fairfield-Suisun School District and no feeder system other than club programs.
It started with his retirement after 35 years with the U.S. Postal Service, which has given him more time to focus on volleyball, a game he first started playing at the Fairfield Sports Center in 1983.
“In the last 10 years or so I haven’t really focused much on the club because of the high school (team at Rodriguez),” Bucaojit said. “Now that I’m retired and I’ve got more time to focus on the club, I want to work on the club, not just the club but the whole volleyball program here in Fairfield. Without the middle-school sports, our seventh- and eighth-graders now are at a disadvantage when they get to high school. The last few years it’s been like that.”
Bucaojit still works with both the varsity and junior varsity teams at Rodriguez and remains Club Solano’s director, but he’s looking to expand volleyball’s reach in the community.
“The sport of volleyball, I don’t feel it’s known enough,” Bucaojit said. “I want the sport of volleyball to be — what’s the word I’m looking for? — where it’s like basketball, where everybody practically plays it, or even like softball where you have Bobby Sox . . . . There’s the (Northern California Volleyball Association) and that’s expensive, playing club volleyball with a traveling team. I guess my goal is to make it a city league kind of thing.”
Bucaojit said he hopes something can be done by bringing city and school officials together. He’s seen the success experienced players can have — Rodriguez won at least a share of five of the last six Solano County Athletic Conference titles largely with club players and is now holding its own in the Monticello Empire League — and wants to bring the game to others.
“Seeing these girls come to high school with no experience in volleyball and try to compete with club players, I guess I was looking at the fairness of it all,” Bucaojit said. “It’s not like basketball where you can shoot hoops and learn it that way. A lot of parents are not skilled enough to teach kids how to play the sport of volleyball. That’s where I want to come in.”
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.