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Pepperdine Alumni and Staff to Compete in 2016 Summer Olympic Games

A group of talented Pepperdine alumni athletes and staff members have been selected to participate in a variety of sports throughout the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, scheduled to take place from August 5 to 21.

Alumni Sarah Attar (’14), Miranda Ayim (’10), Roxanne Barker (’12), Kim Hill (’12), Merrill Moses (’99), Jesse Smith (’05), and Fred Winters (’04) will be joined in Rio by several accomplished Pepperdine volleyball coaches: head coach Marv Dunphy ('74), assistant coach David Hunt, beach volleyball assistant coach Marcio Sicoli, and volunteer assistant coach Kayla Banwarth, who has also been selected to represent the United States in women’s volleyball. Alumni Jack Kocur (’97) and Alex Rodriguez (’98) will participate as assistant coaches for the USA men's water polo team, and men’s volleyball alumni Kevin Barnett (’97) and Dain Blanton (’94) will be present as analysts for NBC.

Sarah Attar (’14): Saudi Arabia 

Sarah Attar made history in 2012 when she was selected as one of the first two female athletes ever to represent Saudi Arabia at the London Olympics. 

She is also the first Pepperdine product to participate in the track and field category at the Olympics since 1972, and the only other Pepperdine student to compete in the 2012 Olympics, where she ran in the 800-meter race.

Though Attar was born in the United States, her father was born in Saudi Arabia. That enabled her to attain dual citizenship and run for the country, which has strict rules against female participation in sports, but was under pressure from the International Olympic Committee to widen its pool of athletes. 

Attar is one of four women that will represent Saudi Arabia at the Rio Olympics, though her competition category is yet to be determined. 

While at Pepperdine, Attar earned four letters in cross country and three in track. She also earned WCC All-Academic honorable mention her final three years, and made the WCC Commissioner’s Honor Roll “silver” list all four years.

Miranda Ayim (’10): Canada Women’s Basketball

Born in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, basketball star Miranda Ayim was a three-time All-West Coast Conference first team and All-Academic selection while attending Pepperdine University. She set the school record for blocked shots with 182 and finished her career eighth in scoring with 1,377 total points and eighth in rebounding with 735 boards.

Since leaving Malibu in 2010, Ayim has played professionally in the WNBA for the Tulsa Shock and internationally for both Turkey and France. She has competed with the Canadian National Team since 2011, playing in the 2012 Summer Olympics, the 2014 FIBA (Fédération Internationale de Basket-ball) World Championships, and FIBA America’s Championships in 2011 and 2013. She has also played for the Canadian U-21, U-19, and U-18 teams. 

In July 2015 Ayim played for the Canadian National Team in the Pan American Games held in Toronto, Ontario, where Canada won its first Gold Medal in basketball in a game against the United States. 

Roxanne Barker (’12): South Africa Women’s Soccer

Having moved to the United States from her native Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, at age eight, Roxanne Barker was motivated to start playing soccer as a strategic method to develop and maintain new friendships, particularly one with her best friend who played the sport during their school’s lunch hour. 

Barker’s soccer skills improved so much over the years that by the time she graduated from Pepperdine, the goalkeeper left the University as the all-time leader with 47 wins, 79 starts, 311 saves, and 31.0 shutouts.

A four-time All-West Coast Conference selection, Barker joined the South African Olympic Team in 2012, representing her homeland and earning a start against Sweden. The following year, she was selected by American professional women’s soccer team the Portland Thorns FC during the National Women’s Soccer League College Draft.

Currently Barker plays for the Icelandic Úrvalsdeild kvenna soccer club Þór Akureyri, where she won Most Valuable Player during the 2015 season.

Kim Hill (’12): USA Women’s Volleyball

Volleyball player Kim Hill officially joined Team USA in 2013, and was recently selected to represent her home country in the upcoming Summer Olympics.

The following year Team USA dominated at the 2014 FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball) World Championship. Hill scored the team high of 20 points in the Gold Medal match against China, Team USA won the Gold Medal, and she was named Most Valuable Player. 

Hill, who spent several months training with Team USA in Istanbul, Turkey, is now back in the United States and involved in a training routine focused on improving specific drills to enhance the overall performance of the entire team.

An international athlete on the verge of stardom, Hill credits the inspiring role Pepperdine played in helping her further develop her skills, particularly through encouragement from women’s volleyball head coach Nina Matthies.

“She has been such a strong female sports role model for me,” Hill says. “The biggest thing she taught me was to trust all the work you’ve put in, all the hours, so that when the game time comes, you know you’ve done it before and can just let it rip.”

Read more about Hill’s journey to the 2016 Summer Olympics on the Pepperdine Magazine website.

Merrill Moses (’99): USA Men’s Water Polo 

“I remember in 2008 when the torch was lit, it was like a fire was lit inside of me and I knew it was go time,” remembers goalkeeper Merrill Moses of his first Olympic presence on the Silver-winning 2008 U.S. water polo team.

Moses also participated in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England, where the U.S. water polo team ranked eighth place. 

It was this same focus that helped him lead Pepperdine to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship in 1997 and 1998, earning him 1st Team All-Conference and 2nd Team All-American honors at the University. He was also named Pepperdine’s Most Valuable Player at the 1997 NCAA Championships, an honor he says first helped him realize that he could play at the next level.

Nearly two decades later, the California native has built a professional resume that includes tallying up the highest number of saves in the 2006 Premier League Division I, being named the MVP of the 2010 USA Water Polo Men’s National Championships with the New York Athletic Club, and playing for teams in Italy and Croatia following his Silver victory four years ago in Beijing. He led his teams—Sibenik, Croatia, and Nervi, Italy—to success and won the yellow Cap award for being the most consistent player in the Croatian league.

Moses reunited with the Waves in 2012 as the assistant coach of the men’s water polo team. He was inducted into the Pepperdine Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.

Jesse Smith (’05): USA Men’s Water Polo

Born in Hawaii and raised on the peninsula of Coronado, California, the water is a second home to Jesse Smith, who will compete on the U.S. men’s water polo team this summer after winning Silver in 2008 and scoring three goals in 2012. He is also the first Pepperdine alumnus to compete at four Olympics.

The 6’4” athlete who plays the utility position was also one of America’s top scorers at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games prior to graduating from Pepperdine, scoring nine goals total and two in his debut game against Croatia. He then went on to play professionally in Croatia, helping team Samir Barac win the Croatian Championship in 2007.

Though he took time out of his degree to compete in the 2004 Games as an undergraduate, Smith managed to graduate in eight semesters and was named to the All-American team four times at the University. After graduating in the winter of 2005, he and his wife Brittany (née Dye) (’05) moved to Europe, where he played for Ethnikos Pireus in Greece.

Smith scored six goals during the 2011 Pan American Games in Mexico, winning Team USA a Gold Medal and a qualifying win for the 2012 Summer Olympics. He currently plays for Greek water polo club team Olympiacos. 

Fred Winters (’04): Canada Men's Volleyball

Representing Team Canada in men’s volleyball at the 2016 Summer Olympics is Fred Winters, a two-time All-American Waves athlete who earned a coveted spot on the Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) first team in 2004. 

Winters played professional volleyball for Beijing, China, from 2008 to 2014, and was on the roster for the Canada men’s national volleyball team at the 2014 FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball) Men’s World Championship in Poland. 

In 2015 he participated in the Pan American Games in Canada. That same year he joined Brazil’s professional volleyball team Sada Cruzeiro Vôlei. His time with Sada Cruzeiro has earned him Gold Medals for the 2014-2015 Brazilian Men’s Volleyball Superliga, the 2015-2016 Brazilian Men’s Volleyball Superliga, and the 2015 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship.

Winters has been a member of Canada’s National Team for over a decade and has played professionally in Austria, China, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Turkey.

Kayla Banwarth: USA Women’s Volleyball/Volunteer Assistant Coach

After joining the Waves on the sidelines in December 2015, Kayla Banwarth will begin her second season as a volunteer assistant with Pepperdine men’s volleyball team during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Banwarth helped the team to a 13-11 overall record and 12-10 record within Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) play, and coached the players to a 7-5 record at home and a 6-6 record on foreign soil. Primarily focusing on liberos, she led the back line to rank 36th nationally with 7.69 digs/set throughout the season.  

She has been the starting libero for USA Volleyball since 2011, and last season helped Team USA to a gold medal at the FIVB World Grand Prix and the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA) Championship, while leading the team to a bronze medal at the FIVB World Cup. 

In 2012 and 2013 Banwarth led the team to gold medals in consecutive Pan American Cups, and in 2013 was named USA Volleyball’s Female Indoor Most Improved Player of the Year. In her first international competition in 2011, Banwarth helped USA to a bronze medal at the Pan American Games. In 2014 she aided USA to an FIVB World Championship title. 

Marv Dunphy ('74): USA Volleyball, Head Coach

One of the most recognizable names in U.S. volleyball, Marv Dunphy will head into his 34th season as the Waves’ head coach in fall 2016.

Under his leadership, Pepperdine has won four NCAA men’s volleyball titles, 44 players have been named All-Americans 74 times, 22 have earned 38 All-American first team accolades, 19 have represented the U.S. National Team, and 10 have participated in the Olympics.

Dunphy was an assistant coach for the men’s team at the 2000 Olympics, and a consultant coach at the 1996, 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympics. Most notably, he was head coach of the USA team that won the gold medal at the 1988 Olympics.

He helped the U.S. Women’s National Team make history in 2014 as an assistant coach during Team USA’s gold-medal run at the FIVB World Championships in Italy. It was the U.S. women’s first-ever gold medal at any major tournament, including the World Championships, World Cup and Olympic Games.

A National Coach of the Year and a three-time MPSF Coach of the Year, Dunphy joined the AVCA Hall of Fame in December 2009 and the Pepperdine Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010. In 2011 he was awarded the U.S. Olympic Achievement Award for his part in helping the U.S. National Team capture the gold medal in Beijing, China. 

David Hunt: USA Volleyball, Assistant Coach

David Hunt has worked with the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team for nine seasons, and recently earned national acclaim as an assistant with his second AVCA 30 Under 30 award, having received the first in 2010. 

During the 2015-2016 season with the Waves, Hunt helped the team to a 13-11 overall record and 12-10 record within MPSF play. He coached the team to a 7-5 record at home and a 6-6 record abroad.

In 2014 Hunt was picked as head coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team as they battled at the NORCECA World Championship Qualification Tournament at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Under his leadership, Team USA was dominant, posting four shut-out victories to punch its ticket into the 2014 FIVB World Championship.

Hunt later helped the U.S. Women’s National Team make history in October 2014. He served as a consultant coach during Team USA’s gold medal run at the FIVB World Championships in Italy. It was the U.S. women’s first-ever gold medal at any major tournament, including the World Championships, World Cup, and Olympic Games. In 2015 he was selected to coach Team USA at the Pan American Cup in Lima, Peru. 

Jack Kocur (’97): USA Men's Water Polo, Assistant Coach

Following four seasons as an assistant coach for the Pepperdine men’s water polo team, and after serving as interim head coach for the 2006 season, Jack Kocur became the full-time head coach at Pepperdine in 2007 when Terry Schroeder was named head coach of the U.S. national men’s water polo team. 

In his six seasons as head coach, the Waves posted winning records in three seasons. In 2008 the Waves finished with a number 2 national ranking, went 21-7 overall, and tied for second place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. 

In his first season as an assistant coach, the Waves went 27-10 overall, the most wins by a Pepperdine team in more than 20 years. The Waves finished with a number 3 national ranking. 
Kocur is tied for 14th place on the school's all-time list for his achievements as a student-athlete and holds the school record with 28 two-point goals.

Kocur trained with the U.S. National Team for six years after graduating from Pepperdine and competed in more than 125 international games. He helped the American squad win the 1998 U.S. Open and finish fourth at the 1998 Goodwill Games and the 1999 French Open.

Alex Rodriguez (’98): USA Men’s Water Polo, Assistant Coach

Prior to serving as the assistant coach for the Waves men's water polo team from 2002 to 2006, Alex Rodriguez was recognized as an All-American athlete and was a member of the Waves’ national championship team in 1997.

His career in water polo led him to become the head coach and co-owner of the Pepperdine Water Polo Club, where in 2005 his 18-and-under boys team won the Junior Olympic Championship game.

Rodriguez has also worked as the head coach of the men's Coastal California National Team in Premier League, with players coming from Pepperdine University, Loyola Marymount University, University of California, Los Angeles, and University of California, Santa Barbara.

After spending a decade as the head coach of the Pomona-Pitzer men’s and women’s water polo teams in Southern California, Rodriguez took a sabbatical leave during the 2015-2016 season to coach the USA water polo team. He served as the head coach for the men's junior national and youth national teams, as well as an assistant coach for the men's senior national team.

Marcio Sicoli: USA Beach Volleyball, Assistant Coach

An expert in both indoor and beach volleyball, Marcio Sicoli entered his eighth season with the Waves during the 2015-2016 school year.

The Brazil native was a member of the indoor volleyball coaching staff for six seasons from 2008 to 2013. He now focuses solely on the beach game, which he has been coaching since the sport emerged in the spring of 2012. In his four seasons with the sand squad, the Waves have taken home the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) National Championship title twice.

He served as an assistant coach for the Brazilian Olympic women’s beach volleyball team from 2000 to 2004. One of their duos earned a Silver Medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Sicoli tutored Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor, arguably the best beach volleyball duo of all time, during the 2012 Olympics in London, England. He continues to train Walsh Jennings and April Ross as the pair prepare for Rio.

1964   SILVER: USA women's track 4x100 relay - Marilyn White 
           SILVER: USA modern pentathlon team - David Kirkwood (’56)

1984   GOLD: USA men's volleyball - Craig Buck
           SILVER: USA women's volleyball - Linda Chisholm (’81)
           SILVER: USA men's water polo - Terry Schroeder (’81)

1988   GOLD: USA men's volleyball - Craig Buck, Bob Ctvrtlik (’85), Jeff Stork (’85), and Troy Tanner (’92)
           SILVER: USA men's water polo - Terry Schroeder (’81)
           BRONZE: USA men's tennis singles - Brad Gilbert 

1992   BRONZE: USA men's volleyball - Bob Ctvrtlik (’85) and Jeff Stork (’85)

2000   GOLD: USA beach volleyball - Dain Blanton (’94)

2008   GOLD: USA men's volleyball - Sean Rooney (’05)
           SILVER: USA men's water polo - Merrill Moses (’99) and Jesse Smith (’05)
           SILVER: Sweden men's tennis doubles - Simon Aspelin (’98)