If you've ever played or even thought of playing volleyball in Santa Cruz, you've almost surely heard the name Phil Kaplan. You might have taken his Cabrillo beach volleyball classes, played in one of his No Attitudes tournaments, or played against him in a game.
Whether you've become a player due to Phil, or didn't like the fact that he taught so many newbies to play, he’s somehow impacted your life. He’s impacted the lives of hundreds of people as well as the environment.
What is Phil Kaplan all about? What are his future plans? What can we take away with us when we hear about an inspirational member of this city? I interviewed Phil to find these questions out.
Me: Phil, what exactly does the No Attitudes organization mean to you?
Phil: Inclusive, open to everyone; the main concept that I try to teach is that we're a community that supports one another. And thinking about others besides ourselves.
Me: Besides volleyball skills, what are some things you teach your students?
Phil: You're not really trying to dominate your opponents; you’re trying to encourage them to play the best that they can, so that you have to play the best that you can. I love how in my classes, someone will hit a great shot at their opponents and then encourage their opponents to try and get it. We're playing as hard as we can to win, but in that environment of supporting one another. It’s totally non-profit- all of the money goes to supporting the community. It’s so much more than volleyball. It helps us to get involved with environmental organizations in town.
Me: What kind of organizations does it support?
Phil: Number one is the Spinal Cord Society. There were three local volleyball players that later ended up in wheelchairs. Mike Linebach, a former player of mine, is one and he’s the president. We've donated over $35,000 to them. We also support Native Animal Rescue of Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz SPCA, St. Francis Catholic Kitchen and Second Harvest Food Bank. We donated about $80,000 total so far.
We also support Save Our Shores. Every semester the students have to participate in a beach cleanup. It’s about getting involved with organizations in the area, helping their needs and supporting them financially.
Me: Now there are rumors of you retiring but I still see you out on the beach. What are your future plans?
Phil: I spent about 5 years looking for someone to take over that had my vision. Right under my nose was Liz Fowler who is perfect for the position. I still teach my Wednesday night class and the Cabrillo class but Liz is now running all of the tournaments and has taken over the majority of my recreation classes. I've avoided any commercialism in my program and Liz is into that as well. I'm interested in a lot of things that have to do with nature and want to pursue that now- I want to learn about sustainable landscaping, more about birds, and take classes in that kind of stuff.
Me: What do you want to say to volleyball players from here on out?
Phil: Beach volleyball will change your life forever.
After this interview, I knew that Phil’s last sentence has way more to do with than just volleyball.
To find out more about Phil's classes, tournaments, and mission, please visit http://www.cabrillo.edu/~pkaplan/index.html