Q&A: Wilcox repeats as All-State Player of Year

Four years, he says, have gone by at warp speed.

Well, maybe not Star Trek warp speed, but fast enough that Ryan Wilcox is almost missing his time as a Punahou volleyball player. The Star-Advertiser’s panel of coaches and media selected Wilcox the All-State Player of the Year for a second season in a row. Wilcox earned it with consistent, precise play as an all-around player who happens to be an outside hitter.

“Ryan has a high degree of skill. He can pass, defend, has a wicked jump serve, attacks from anywhere,” Buffanblu coach Rick Tune said. “Especially with his attacking, he has so many shots and great vision. He can dip into his toolbox.”

That arsenal of weapons — five Buffanblu were voted to the Fab 15 — helped Punahou go unbeaten in local play, winning a seventh-consecutive state crown. Wilcox amassed 45 kills in Punahou’s three victories at the state tourney, including 15 against Moanalua in the final.

“He works on it and perfects his craft,” Tune added. “You don’t get there without working extremely hard.”

Wilcox has a 3.75 grade-point average and is on his way to UC Santa Barbara this summer.

“I’ll be dorming there. I’m coaching at the (volleyball) camp one week,” said Wilcox, who already has experience coaching 12-under players at his club, Spike and Serve.

The world of college volleyball has been his dream for a long time, but it is not without some humor.

“I’m supposed to dorm with two of my teammates, but one of them is too tall,” Wilcox said. “He didn’t fit in the bed, so he’s in another dorm room.”

The senior chatted with Hawaii Prep World on Thursday. The complete All-State team will be in Sunday’s newspaper.

Name: Ryan Wilcox
School sport: Volleyball
Class: Senior

Q&A / Favorites

Athlete: Taylor Crabb
> Well, I mean, I’ve always looked up to undersized players because I can relate. I just really admire how he has mastered the skills, the finesse, all-around game, digger, passer, blocker. Now that he’s on the beach, he really uses all these skills. Being the smaller guy, he’s just as efficient as the big guy.

He has the life that you would want.
> Oh yeah, exactly. That’s pretty to be on the AVP and doing well. That’s a good goal for me. To make that beach volleyball. It seems like a nice lifestyle.

Team: Team USA.
> That was kind of a joke. I don’t really follow other sports too much. I’ll watch football and basketball when it’s the championship games, but I don’t really have a favorite team.

Food (at home): Mom’s chicken curry casserole 
> Well, on my birthday what I want her to make for my dinner and this is what I always choose. She’ll make it once a month or every two months. Not as often as I’d like.

So with you going to UC Santa Barbara, living on your own, maybe in the dorm, can you make this chicken curry casserole?
> I do not think I have acquired the skills yet to do that. I’ll need some more practice.

So you’ve tried making this before?
> I’ve observed.

Food (eating out): Shabu Shabu.
> Yeah, like hot pot. Cook it in the broth. It’s really good. I like the one, Asuka, in Kaimuki. It’s pretty healthy, you cook it right in front of you.

Hobby outside of sports: surfing, glassblowing.
> Surfing has been pretty much my whole life. That’s pretty much my weekend activity and during the week if I’m able to.

At where?
> Secrets, pretty close to my house. Glassblowing, I started at the beginning of my senior year. It can be dangerous, 2,000 degrees. Luckily, no injuries yet. It’s super fun and and something amazing to learn, something not a lot of people get to try.

One of Ryan Wilcox’s favorite classes is glassblowing. Photo courtesy of Ryan Wilcox

Movie: Good Will Hunting
> I’m not really a movie guy. I pretty much like all movies I watch if they’re entertaining. I like how he was an underdog, in a way.

TV show: The Office.
> I probably started watching it a couple of years ago on Netflix. I’ve probably watched every episode twice. I was watching when you called. It’s mainly comedy with a little bit of drama and romance.

Who’s your favorite character?
> I’d say it’s Michael Scott. Or Creed.

Video game: Temple Run.
> The guy is running and you have to swipe to make him dodge things like trees and barriers. And you have to collect coins by tilting your phone. It’s pretty simple. I don’t play too many video games.

Music artist: Young the Giant
> They’re a band of four or five guys and they play, like, alternative, kind of indie rock music.

Who do they remind you of?
> Uhh… I can’t really, I think they’re pretty unique.

Teacher (elementary through high school): Mr. Samuel Vierra.
> He teaches European philosophy. That was this year, first semester. Instead of telling you answers to things, he makes you think about them yourself and how you think about things. It makes you wonder about a lot of things you might not have thought about before.

Such as?
> Things like do we have free will? Or is everything pre-determined? Where your consciousness lies? If someone put their brain into your body, would it be you or someone else?

Kind of like Westworld, where they create robots or maybe clones?
> Yeah, would it be a copy of him, or would it really be him.

GPA: 3.75
If you didn’t have sports, would you have a higher or lower GPA?
> Honestly, maybe lower. Actually, I don’t know. I still have a good amount of time to do my homework now. I think it would be the same. Probably with the free time I have, I’m pretty good about homework, and then going surfing. I’d like to think it would be higher, but who knows.

Class: Philosophy
> So it’s about European philosophers like Socrates and Plato, different views of the world, I guess.

Which one do you agree with most? Or least?
> I don’t remember which guy said what. It’s too long ago to remember.

But it was your favorite class?
> Our main grade consisted of video projects. We had a lot of freedom with what we wanted to do. Me and my friend made some funny videos, but also informative.

So where’s the video now?
> Probably gone. Deleted.

You’re going to put it on YouTube?
> It wasn’t YouTube worthy. It wasn’t ready.

But you got a good grade on it? An A?
> Yeah.

This video needs to be online.

Place to relax: the ocean

Motto/scripture: John Wooden said success is peace of mind in knowing you did your best, to become the best you are capable of becoming.
> I think he was a good coach and at UCLA he ended up winning a lot of titles. The difference between a good player and a special player, just those mental adjustments can really change your level of play. I like him because all his advice is process-based. I really believe in focusing on what’s in my control and not worrying about things that aren’t.

What your mom (Debbie) says that you can’t forget.
> She always says when I go out, “Drive safe. Be careful.”

What your dad (Keoni) says that you can’t forget
> “Just play your game and have fun.”

Are they volleyball players?
> Nope. Nobody in my family. That was kind of a good thing for me. My parents, you know, they don’t know the game too well, so they’re just there for the support and tell to play good no matter what.

Definitely not helicopter parents.
> Not at all.

That’s the other extreme.
> Especially in games, in-game is definitely not the time to be coached from the bleachers. Just play the way you practice, just do it.

What your coaches say that you can’t forget.
> “Hit smart.”

How does your sport affect your daily life during the season and offseason?
> What off-season? Haha.

What middle and elementary schools did you attend?
> Punahou since kindergarten.

What youth teams did you play for? What club do you play for and what are the daily commitments like year-round?
> Outrigger when I was 12, then Ka Ulukoa, then Spike and Serve.

Is once a week practice enough for 12-year-olds?
> Especially at that age, you don’t want to get burned out. Once, twice maybe three times a week is good. You want to stay hungry.

Do you feel that’s a good limit for all sports?
> You don’t want to be burnt out emotionally, as well. I know a lot of baseball guys who practiced as kids every day and now they’re over it. I’m sure that’s not true of everyone, but everyone needs some balance in their life.

So you practiced at the old Word of Life gym, which was a converted warehouse.
> Yeah.

Where have you travelled for your sport(s)? 
> California, Texas, Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, Japan 

Which place was surprisingly good or cool?
> They other states pale in comparison to Hawaii, but Iowa exceeded my expectations. They had a really good burger place. It was pretty. It was clean. There was a nice lake or river.

What’s the burger place called?
> That was Zombie Burger. I had a cinnamon toast crunch milkshake. They had all kinds of weird stuff there. Deep-fried mac and cheese as buns.

What do you like to do — or what’s something else you’re good at — that would surprise most people?
> I love glassblowing. I have actually gotten pretty good at it over the last year. 

What is your ultimate dream/bucket list? Where would you like to travel, what life would you like to have as an athlete? And away from sports? 
> I’d like to travel the world playing beach volleyball. That’d be pretty sick to live that lifestyle. Away from sports I’d like to surf killer waves and get better at guitar

I think Instagram and everything online is a visual and cultural stimulus. What are the top two or three places you’d want to go visit?
> I’d want to go to New Zealand again. Indonesia. I want to surf. They have some crazy waves, some too big for me.

Why New Zealand?
> The landscape there is unreal. I’d want to go in the summer and get an RV and drive through the countryside.

What is the history and background of your name?
> I think my dad wanted Ryder or Riley and my mom wanted Austin or something, so they combined it and made Ryan. That’s the story I was told.

What about your middle and last name?
> I have the same middle name as my dad and his dad, Edward. It’s actually the first name of my great-grandpa. Wilcox is not the Kauai one, we’re not related to them.

What have the last four years been like — is Punahou and Coach Rick Tune and the staff what you expected?
> These four years have gone so fast. Rick and Brandon (Kikuchi) and Lyman (Lacro) and Gordon (Horiuchi) they’ve been there the whole way with me. I’ve learned a lot from them, for sure. They all contribute something different and unique to the team. Just off the court too, they’re great people, so easy to talk to. Rick has helped me through a lot of things going through high school and taught me to be a better person.

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