Benet’s 6-9 center Sean O’Mara may be the big man on campus after leading the basketball team to second place in the state, but he’s not the tallest.
That honor goes to Ricky Gevis, a 6-11 senior right side hitter on the volleyball team.
Like O’Mara, Gevis has a Division I scholarship in his pocket, but unlike his more renowned schoolmate, he hasn’t been playing his chosen sport for long.
Gevis played basketball his first two years at Benet, but decided to try volleyball in the spring of his sophomore year. He stood 6-10 then after growing six inches over the previous summer.
“I did play basketball but I didn’t really enjoy it that much so then I decided to play volleyball,” said Gevis, a Loyola recruit. “I just kind of decided to play for fun because all my friends played, so they convinced me and I stuck with it.”
In the beginning, Gevis had no idea he would morph into a Division I player, but others saw his potential.
“When he was a sophomore he was still trying to get the hang of it and you could see he’d be a little bit upset because he couldn’t get it down, but you could see he works really hard on it,” Benet junior defensive specialist Josh Martinez said. “Ricky eventually got to the point where he could be really good, so he started doing club.
“That’s when he started getting the footwork down and getting all the fundamentals and that’s when he started being really good, a D1 level player.”
Like many tall kids, Gevis had to grow into his body and learn the intricacies of the sport.
“When I started I was pretty bad,” Gevis said. “Then I kept working at it and over this summer I worked out a lot. I got more coordinated and just became better.”
Gevis now can control his tremendous power, which combined with his height allows him to shred defenses at will, often slamming the ball down at an 80-degree angle. Martinez, who has to practice against Gevis, says trying to dig him is an eye-opening experience.
“It can sometimes be pretty scary, actually, especially since the ball hits right over the blockers,” Martinez said. “His hits are so powerful, it’s kind of hard when you get to the ball because but when you do touch it, it always shanks away and it’s hard to get the ball to the setters.
“And he can hit it anywhere. He’s just a heck of a player.”
Benet coach Amy Van Eekeren agrees.
“He’s turned into quite an outstanding player and he’s really a force from every corner of the court,” Van Eekeren said. “Some of the tall kids, they’re uncoordinated or gangly or can’t control muscle, but he is such an athletic kid, very agile. He’s extremely coachable and works really hard so I can’t ask for more from a player.”
Gevis is still asking more from himself. Over the past year he has added a strong jump serve to his repertoire and improved his jumping ability to where he can touch 12 feet but wants to improve his play in the back row.
One of five returning starters, Gevis is hoping to lead the Redwings to another conference title and perhaps a deep playoff run, which would raise his profile even more. He likes being the tallest kid in the school.
“The only thing I don’t like is I have to duck through doorways sometimes,” Gevis said.
Other than that, he can stand tall.