Game, set, match.
After three years leading the Crimson, achieving a Sweeney Division title as well as an appearance in the EIVA quarterfinals in his debut season, Chris Ridolfi has resigned as the head coach of the Harvard men’s volleyball team in order to spend more time with his family.
“I decided to try to simplify my life a little bit with the beginning of my family coming,” Ridolfi said.
For the last three years, Ridolfi had been commuting back and forth between Worcester and Cambridge, coaching both Harvard’s men’s team and Holy Cross’s women’s team. Although both positions demanded Ridolfi’s time and attention— not to mention his gas money—the balancing act did not prove detrimental to the Crimson.
“He was a good coach,” senior Jordan Weitzen said. “He really developed me the whole way through, starting freshman year, developing my style all the way through senior year.”
In 2005, Harvard’s first season under Ridolfi, the Crimson brought home the Sweeney Division championship, finishing out the season with a 13-6 record a 9-2 mark in the EIVA. The highlight was a midseason 13-game winning streak.
Over the following two years, Harvard did not match that success but managed a fourth-place finish in 2006 and a solid third in 2007. But perhaps more than the victories of seasons past, Ridolfi’s strong relationship with the team made him such an asset to the Crimson.
“It would’ve been cool to play for the same coach all four years because of the relationship standpoint,” Weitzen said. “He came in when I came into the program—we both came in as newcomers together—so we had that bond going for us...He knows how I am as a player, how I play, how I act—on and off the court.”
Although the Harvard seniors will not be able to finish out their college careers with Ridolfi, they unquestionably respect his decision and remain excited for the upcoming season—and for their new coach.
“If they’re as receptive as they were to me, it will be a seamless transition,” Ridolfi said. “And I think they’re mature enough and confident enough to welcome somebody with open arms and with open-mindedness.”
As the process of replacing Ridolfi commences, Harvard is hopeful that assistant coach Jose Barbosa will take the helm. Barbosa has been the Crimson’s assistant coach for two years, and his relationship with the team has grown strong in that time.
“He’s just closer to us as individual players as well as the team as a whole,” Weitzen said. “He understands our style of playing and where our strengths and weaknesses are, so he can really build a cohesive group on the court and put a really strong team together that plays to individual strengths and weaknesses.”
By understanding team dynamics as well as individual playing styles, Barbosa seems an attractive candidate to take over the Crimson. His vast experience of the sport of volleyball only adds to his value as a coach.
“We both respect him as a volleyball player and a coach,” Weitzen said. “Whatever he says goes, because he’s just that knowledgeable. With him leading the team this year, we’ll be very successful and a top contender in the EIVA.”
Until a decision is made, however, Harvard will be left to organize preseason training on its own. So far, the Crimson has maintained its practice schedule. As Ridolfi’s attention was usually focused on his Holy Cross team during their fall season, the current squad already has experience running its own preseason practices. Without a coach, Harvard has worked with the athletic department to secure practice facilities and gym time.
But as practices are scheduled to begin soon, the Crimson is eager to have a decision made and begin working with its new coach.
“We’ll find out soon enough,” Weitzen said. “Hopefully sooner rather than later.”
—Staff writer Courtney D. Skinner can be reached at email@example.com