In the tradition of alumni such as Brad Holland, Greg Goorgian and Harvey Mason, Barry Eget made a name for himself at Crescenta Valley High by lighting up the scoreboard on the basketball court.
Despite playing with bum knees that required him to slip floating cartilage into place before and often during games, Eget led the Southern Section 4-A Division in scoring in 1987, averaging just more than 27 points a game.
Today, having derailed his own college career before it even had a chance to begin, Eget has returned to Crescenta Valley as a coach.
He daily instructs players how to pass, score and exploit an opponent's weaknesses.
Eget, however, is relaying his knowledge on the volleyball court.
After assisting last year with the Falcons boys' volleyball team, Eget is the head coach of the school's burgeoning girls' program.
Although just 3-6 entering this week, the Falcons knocked off Burbank in their season opener and extended traditional powers Hoover and Hart to five games before falling.
The main reason for the improved play is Eget--who had never touched a volleyball until three years ago--and his fiancee Lynn Andriese, a former All-Southern Section setter at Ontario Christian High who serves as Eget's assistant.
The couple has brought seriousness and commitment to the program and motivated the players to compete regardless of mismatches in size and experience.
"Last year, once we fell behind, we lost it and could not come back," junior middle hitter Jodie Larson said. "This year, we have more heart."
Eget's ability to instill that quality in his players has surprised many on campus. Most coaches and administrators remember Eget as a hard-headed high school student who gave up a scholarship at Cal State Northridge because he was not projected to start his freshman season.
"When Barry came back it was with a much more mature attitude," Crescenta Valley Principal Ken Biermann said. "I think he was surprised in a way that we would give him an opportunity.
"But he's proven to us that he's capable. . . . He's molded himself, like the other coaches here, so that it's right to have high expectations and hold his players accountable."
Eget admits he didn't always see things so clearly, especially when he arrived at Northridge.
"I was going through a stage where I thought I knew everything," Eget recalled. "I took in everything people told me, but it just went out the other ear."
After leaving Northridge, Eget enrolled at College of the Canyons and worked out with the Cougars in preparation for the 1988-89 basketball season.
"I was excited," Eget said. "They had a high-speed game and I knew I would get to play a lot there."
That summer, though, Eget blew out his knee again and underwent surgery for the sixth time. His basketball career was over.
"I have the knees of a 50-year-old man," Eget said. "I thought maybe someone was telling me that my talents lay in another direction."
That summer, Eget and former Crescenta Valley teammate Larry Resendez watched a two-man beach volleyball tournament at Manhattan Beach and decided to give the sport a try.
Their first attempts were laughable.
"We couldn't keep the ball in the air long enough to bump it over the net," Eget said.
However, Eget soon picked up the rudiments of the game. He began playing almost daily at the beach, where the sand cushioned the shock to his knees, feet and ankles.
He became an assistant coach for the women's team at Canyons, where he met Andriese, and last summer he played 15 "B" tournaments with Resendez.
Eget believes he "should have given basketball a better shot," but he also said his experiences have been "a blessing in disguise."
If he had not left Northridge, he probably never would have played volleyball, met Andriese nor returned to his alma mater to build a volleyball program.
"They have two coaches that can get in there and play with them at practice," Eget said. "When you play the game everyday and get in there and practice, I think that does a lot more than just standing in front of a chalkboard and telling them what to do."
The Falcons, who play at Muir on Friday, are led by Larson, who averages 13 kills and eight blocks a match; senior outside hitter Danae Fielder, who averages 10 kills; and senior setter Lucy Quesada.
Eget said it is only a matter of time before Crescenta Valley becomes a factor in the Pacific League.
"A lot of the other schools have girls that have been playing on club teams since they were 12 or 13 years old," Eget said. "We're just going to have to work that much harder.
"That's always kind of been the CV way. They're never the biggest or the fastest, but they find a way to overcome those things."