While it’s apparent the Riverside-Brookfield High School boys volleyball team has promising talent, an inability to close out matches has been the primary culprit for the Bulldogs’ disappointing 6-12 record.
“We play well for most of a match but can’t finish it out. That’s been the story of our season,” RBHS coach Dan Bonarigo said. “We have a lot of guys who make plays early but we really struggle late in games. I want someone to step up and be the man.”
While talented juniors like Maclean Nolan and Lucas Kulbis along with sophomores Erik Hartwig and Peter Fergusen clearly represent the future of RBHS volleyball, senior middle hitter David Wackrow appears ideally suited to fill Bonarigo’s call for a late-game leader this spring.
“David is a two-year starter and a very hard worker,” Bonarigo said. “He understands his role and plays with a lot of enthusiasm and intensity. That is why he’s on the court so much.”
Bonarigo, a former setter at Michigan State, has challenged Wackrow to maximize his ability which suits the latter just fine.
“He’s been very hard on me especially because I was on varsity last year,” Wackrow said. “I’m up for any constructive criticism. Coach Bonarigo is a really good coach who definitely knows what he’s talking about. I try to make sure we set a tone on defense. Playing middle is also about trying to get my teammates open.”
After a tough stretch midway through the season (11 losses in 13 matches), the Bulldogs notched wins over Hinsdale South 25-16, 22-25, 27-25 and Lemont 25-15, 25-20 last week.
For his part, Wackrow’s impact on the Bulldogs goes well beyond the box score. He’s been an invaluable mentor for the team’s younger players.
“He’s a great teammate and competitor,” Nolan said. “We go against each other in practice and David has helped me improve as a player. It doesn’t really matter how old you are because we all respect each other the same, but David definitely makes everybody on the team better.”
While Wackrow believes the Bulldogs can close out the season in strong fashion, he’s pleased that the future appears very bright for the program.
“There have been games when I’ve been amazed at how far we have come,” Wackrow said. “This team has so much potential. Guys like Maclean and Erik are killing it out there. I’m trying to push the other players as hard as I can, not only for this season but next year.”
In addition to his leadership ability and work ethic, Wackrow is a very solid athlete. At 6-2, 185 pounds, he grew up in Brookfield playing baseball before turning his attention to basketball, football and volleyball in high school. During the fall, he was a wide receiver/defensive back on the resurgent RBHS football team, which finished 6-4 with a playoff berth. He played on the varsity basketball team during his junior year.
“RB has been great. I wouldn’t want to go to any other school,” Wackrow said. “I think the atmosphere is awesome for students because the athletics and teachers are great and everybody is so caring. I know it sounds cheesy but we are one big family at RB. I think it’s the best high school in the state.”
Wackrow will attend Triton in the fall. “I’m planning on going to Triton for two years and then transfer to a larger school. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do.”
In the meantime, his objective is clear-cut.
“We’re hosting a sectional so we want to make it at least that far “Wackrow said. “We didn’t have a good record [13-25] last year and we won a regional. Getting better every day is the focus right now. The record this season obviously isn’t good right now, but if we keep improving that will help for the future.”