The 2012-13 school year saw the Wilcox varsity volleyball team win just 3 out of their 22 matches. A league record of 1-6 and an overall record of 3-19 preceded a change in head coach.
Beginning with the 2013 fall season, April Lujan took over the program and the club immediately saw dividends. In her first season, Lujan led her squad to a .500 overall record at 14-14-1 and a league record at 7-6.
While the team has seen its ups and downs during Lujan’s tenure, her squad has long been known as a lower division team that can compete with upper division schools. To that end, Lujan often gets asked by coaches in upper divisions to schedule matches against Wilcox.
Since taking over as head coach, Lujan has amassed an overall record of 131-149-1 over 10 seasons. A respectable .467 win percentage, particularly when you factor in that her non-league matches more often than not come against teams that are much stronger than the Chargers’ league competition.
For example, last season, one in which Wilcox earned the first ever league championship in school history, Wilcox had a league winning percentage of .916 and a non-league winning percentage of just .560.
If Lujan wanted her winning percentage to be as high as it can be, she could schedule easier non-league opponents. But that’s not Lujan. She cares about her players improving as much as they can and that comes from working hard in practice and facing the toughest opponents.
“She is very determined and extremely confident,” praised current senior volleyball captain Neda Salehi on her head coach. “She knows she has one of the best programs in the area and she never gives up on her players. No matter what kind of adversity she’s hit with, like losing 10 seniors in 1 year; her mentality does not change.
“She is not one of those people who feels sorry for herself,” continued Salehi. “She had a talk with us at the beginning of the year saying she doesn’t care that she lost 10 seniors; that we’re going to work our butts off.”
Working rear ends off has always been a staple of Lujan’s program.
“My girls work really hard,” confirmed the Wilcox head coach in an exclusive interview with the Voice. “I like to set the bar high, even if I know a girl is not ready for a skill, I still put them into it because I’m confident in my ability to make them better. In my mind, I have to make these girls good, so I’m going to keep putting them in uncomfortable situations. So one of the things I told the girls is ’a team’s workout, is our warmup,’ I want our girls to outwork every team that we play.
“I want spectators and people to see us and think, ‘Those girls work hard and it shows. They are all cohesive whether they are on the side or on the court. They work super, super hard,’ and that’s one of the things I have been complimented on in my years in coaching,” continued Lujan.
“From parents at other schools who never even knew me, or other coaches, they’ll be like ‘You guys hustle. You don’t make excuses. You just do it,’ and that’s because that’s what I implement in practices; that’s my culture,” said Lujan.