Submitted Randi Viggiano and her husband and assistant coach Nick, both McNary graduates, have turned Culver High School into a volleyball powerhouse.

Submitted
Randi Viggiano and her husband and assistant coach Nick, both McNary graduates, have turned Culver High School into a volleyball powerhouse.

By DEREK WILEY

Of the Keizertimes

Dan Borresen, former volleyball coach at McNary High School, isn’t at all surprised by the success of one of his past players.

Randi Viggiano graduated from McNary in 2000 and was a defensive specialist on the 1998 team that brought home the school’s first state trophy, finishing a school best fifth place.

Now the head coach at Culver, in Central Oregon, the Lady Bulldogs have finished in the top five in Class 2A six years in a row.

“I’ve had several players go on to be coaches and she would be at the top of the list of someone I knew would coach someday,” Borresen said.

“I remember her very well because when she was a little kid, she was always in the gym. She loved playing. She loved everything about teaching and coaching the game. It was something that was a passion for her’s since the time she was a young kid.”

Going to youth camps at McNary, Viggiano, then McDonnell, couldn’t wait to be on the high school team.

“I grew up dreaming of playing for Dan Borresen and being a McNary Celtic probably ever since I was  8 years old,” she said.  “I had an amazing high school volleyball experience from ninth through 12th grade and got to look up to a lot of great players and got to play with some of my closest friends in high school. He (Borresen) laid such a great foundation for all of us and someone we all still look up to and admire.”

After high school, Viggiano didn’t have immediate plans to get into coaching. She went to Oregon State  University and majored in public health and earned her master’s degree in counseling. But then an opening for an assistant coach at volleyball powerhouse Crook County opened up.

“It kind of fell into my lap,” Viggiano said. “I moved to Central Oregon for work and my mom had somehow heard through the grapevine that Crook County was looking for some help coaching. I definitely found a home there.”

In three seasons with the program, Crook County won three state championships.

Viggiano was ready to branch out on her own.

In her interview at Culver, she was asked what her goal was in a year. She replied, “Win a state championship.” Viggiano was then asked her goal for five years. “Win five more,” she responded.

Culver had finished last in its league the two previous seasons.

“I think they liked my answer,” Viggiano said. “I came from a competitive program. When I was at McNary the goal was always to win and I grew up watching that program. My club team that I played for was always really competitive and successful and then I went to coach at Crook County so finishing on top, that was always the goal. If you’re not reaching for the top, then what are you really reaching for?”

Having coached three girls from Culver on a club team, Viggiano sort of knew what she was getting into.

In 2010, her first season, the Lady Bulldogs jumped to third in its league and made the state tournament. Culver then finished fourth in the state in 2011.

“We had really strong freshmen come in, who definitely helped bring a new level of volleyball to our program and just building with the other strong players that we already had the year before,” Viggiano said.

“I had two girls from those first two years who are currently playing college volleyball. Seeing those girls develop and pursue volleyball outside of high school is definitely something great for the culture of your program.”

Culver has a Wall of Champions in its gym with giant pictures of past wrestling teams and the 2007 state champion football team but there weren’t any girls.

Viggiano put an end to that as the volleyball program won the state title in 2012.

“To win it with those girls was just something very special because they had never won a state title in any sport,” Viggiano said. “I swear our entire town was there watching it and that made it extra special as well and for me to help facilitate a group of females going up on that wall, they’re the only group up there, that was really special for me. In a wall of boys, there’s a group of volleyball players, which is awesome.”

Culver had back-to-back third place finishes in 2013 and 2014 and were state runner-up in 2015.

The Lady Bulldogs went into the 2016 state tournament as the No. 1 seed but finished fifth.

Along with all the winning, Viggiano has also created a family atmosphere at Culver, where she also serves as the school’s counselor, and not just because her husband is an assistant coach and her mom has coached the junior varsity.

“They are our kids and we want them to feel that sense of belonging and that sense of love and acceptance throughout the year, not just during our season, so creating that sense of family had been a huge motivator for us and also something that our girls love,” Viggiano said. “They talk about that all the time and can’t imagine not having these experiences as part of their high school career and that makes me feel good because that’s the environment we wanted to create.”