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Pepperdine University
Marv Dunphy, Pepperdine Magazine

Rare People

Pepperdine Magazine is the feature magazine for Pepperdine University and its growing community of alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends.

I have always felt that I have been at the right place at the right time. But mostly, I have been there with the right people.


The right place was Pepperdine and
the right time was 1972 when it all began for me and the others who were embarking on an exciting adventure at a new campus in Malibu. As I look back on my many years as a Wave, that place is still Pepperdine and the people are still those who embody what being a Wave is all about.

Years ago, President Andrew K. Benton and former Director of Athletics
John Watson (’72) asked me to share my perspective on what it means to be a Wave with the Pepperdine Athletics coaches and staff at the annual reception at the president’s home. I felt proud about my experiences as a Pepperdine student, athlete, assistant coach, head coach, and teacher, and I was honored to share the things I had learned along the way.

One of the things I shared then and
still share to this day in our opening team meeting is to take pride in the
fact that others have gone before you. Pepperdine Waves share a long history of exceptional athleticism. They have not only experienced the glory of victory, they have set the standards for ethical sportsmanship. They have represented Pepperdine with pride and strived to be a part of something bigger than themselves—throughout regular season, in national championships, and on the global Olympics stage.

Having those things in common, each and every Wave shares the honor of being included in a tradition that is unique to Pepperdine. A key part of that tradition is knowing the difference between competitiveness and toughness. Anybody can be competitive, but Waves stand out because they are not only confronted with adversity, they embrace it.

Of all the qualities that embody what it means to be a Wave, most people find significance in my statement about how rare it is for people to do their best. Doing one’s best does not mean winning at all costs or being perfect.

It means being diligent and committed to a personal mission and developing the habits that will eventually shape who they are. It means serving others and leading by example. It means competing with a sense of pride, purpose, and passion.

As I enter a new phase in my time at Pepperdine after these 45 years, I am grateful for the opportunity to have served this institution. Even more,

I am grateful for the chance to have learned from the Waves.


... live up to and pass on the athletic tradition and heritage of Pepperdine University.

... have a tradition of always pulling for other Waves. They know that others have gone before them.

... are tough. They know the difference between competitiveness and toughness.

... know that it’s not how big you are—it’s how good or great you are. It’s not where you are—it’s who you are.

... know that the truly great are great over time. They don’t just practice well once in a while. They don’t just do things right once in a while. They don’t just win once in a while. They do it over time.

... win with dignity, lose with class, and treat their sport with respect.

... know that the habits they are developing at Pepperdine will be with them for the
rest of their lives.

... are rare people.

By Marv Dunphy (’74)
Head Coach, Men’s Volleyball