Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Coach Has Plum Marching toward Title Mustangs Are 6-0 in Section

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Coach Has Plum Marching toward Title Mustangs Are 6-0 in Section

Article excerpt

When Col. Rick "Storm" Peterson retired in July after 27 years of military service in the Air Force, he found a job listing for an ROTC instructor at Plum High School.

"My family made a visit to Pittsburgh in May, over Memorial Day weekend, for a 16-and-under girls volleyball tournament and we just loved the city," said Peterson, who was coaching the girls volleyball team. "When I saw the job listing at Plum [soon after the trip], I felt it was a calling for me. I truly felt we needed to come here."

With a resume that included five overseas deployments, it was no surprise that Peterson was the man for the job.

"I was a logistics officer in the Air Force," Peterson said. "I was deployed in South America, the Middle East and Afghanistan, and I enjoyed every one of my deployments."

After accepting the Plum job, Peterson and his 16-year-old daughter moved here from Washington D.C. in August so that he could begin his job and she could start school.

"My wife and our other two children [ages 5 and 1] are still in D.C. since we haven't sold our house yet," Peterson said. "I've been traveling back and forth every other weekend to see my wife and the kids."

Peterson is the senior instructor in charge of Plum's Junior ROTC program, which has 160 cadets.

"After I began working, I found out the district needed a boys volleyball coach," said Peterson, referring to the fact that former coach Michael Larko stepped down due to a job change. "I coached girls club volleyball for nine years in D.C., including two years as a high school varsity head coach."

Peterson is originally from Toledo, Ohio, and did not play volleyball in high school.

"I was a hockey player," Peterson said. "I didn't get introduced to volleyball until late in life. My wife is from Tokyo and she played volleyball. I learned volleyball on the fly. I actually played for an Air Force club team that won a military championship."

Peterson took over a Plum squad that is loaded with senior leadership. Nine of 10 players in Plum's starting rotation are seniors, including six who return with significant varsity experience.

The top returnee is Khaynen Yocca, a 6-foot-7 senior middle hitter who was voted second-team All-WPIAL Class AAA last year. …

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