At 6-foot-11, sophomore Ricky Gevis towers over most. The Loyola men’s volleyball attacker is known by his teammates and friends for his silly and kind nature. Gevis has quickly become one of the most valuable players on Loyola’s men’s volleyball team as an athlete, a teammate and a friend.
Unlike many college athletes, volleyball was not part of Gevis’ childhood. It was a fluke that he began playing in his sophomore year of high school. He and his high school head coach Matt Joniak realized that with hard work, he had the potential to be a great volleyball player — and that’s just what he became.
Still relatively new to the game of volleyball, Gevis came into Loyola last year as a freshman with his work cut out for him. Loyola’s men’s volleyball head coach Mark Hulse said he and former head coach Shane Davis saw a lot of potential in Gevis when they saw him at a prospect camp in 2014.The potential they saw was not only based on Gevis’ physical size and natural ability, but also his willingness to learn and work on his skills.
Because his skills still needed sharpening, Gevis spent a lot of time working behind the scenes at practice and in the weight room. He didn’t get his break until his teammate Ben Plaisted got injured at the end of regular season last year.
Hulse said Gevis proved his worth when he stepped in during the national tournament.
“Ricky came in and the hard work kind of payed off, and he made a huge impression and scored a lot of points and we won a championship,” said Hulse. “He worked hard all year and he got himself to a spot where he was ready to go and ready to play at a championship level.”
Gevis accredits his success at the end of the 2015 season to not only his hard work and dedication, but also to the coaching staff, which presented a high level of competition at practice.
“Every day in practice, I played against the best team there is,” said Gevis. “It’s not like the competition was crazy higher than what I was used to [at the national tournament].”
Gevis closed out last season ranking third on the team in blocks per set with 1.07 and averaging 2.22 kills per set. He racked in 13 kills in both the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association semifinal match against The Ohio State University and the conference championship match against Lewis University. During the NCAA National Championship match against the Flyers, Gevis threw down an impressive seven kills and eight blocks, helping Loyola win its second consecutive national title.
Gevis has not let his late start hold him back. Last year, he played on the U21 team with teammate Jeff Jendryk and got to compete in Canada and in the championships in Mexico. However, Gevis was originally on the practice team and was later asked to try out for a spot in the final 12. The Men’s Volleyball USA under 21 team is a highly competitive team that is essentially B-team level for Team USA.
The tables have turned this season for Gevis, who started in most games at the beginning of the season until he broke his ankle on Feb. 12 in the Ohio State game; now, Plaisted is filling the void as the team’s go-to opposite. This injury is just a bump in the road for Gevis, who is expected to return and continue to improve his already impressive stats this season. He is now out of the boot and has been working hard in rehab to be back on the court in time for the conference tournament. Gevis is currently ranked third on the team with 204 points and 174 kills in the 53 matches played during his Loyola career.
Gevis is no stranger to hard work. With an impressively high GPA and a highly competitive volleyball career, he seems to have his life figured out. That being said, his serious side is not what he is most known for — Gevis’ teammates, friends and coaches also admire his goofy side.
Hulse said Gevis brings a unique and fun personality to the team.
“He’s a goofy guy but he’s a good guy and we trust him,” said Hulse. “[In terms of volleyball], you know what you’re going to get with him. He’s consistent [and] he’s everything we hope for in a guy.”
Plaisted said Gevis is a genuine, intelligent and extremely motivated person.
“He knows what he’s doing,” said Plaisted. “He’s got a really happy attitude about most things and he cares about people.”
While Gevis’ volleyball IQ is undeniable, his intelligence extends far beyond the court and into the classroom. As a sophomore accounting major with a 3.83 GPA, Gevis is certainly going places after his volleyball career.
“I will probably go five years at school, get my CPA and hopefully get a job at one of the [four top accounting firms],” said Gevis.
Loyola is happy to have this force to be reckoned with on the court and in the classroom. Gevis is expected to return to the court shortly. You can catch him on the sidelines cheering on his teammates and making them laugh at the next men’s volleyball game against Quincy University on April 15 at Gentile Arena at 7 p.m.