It came down to spending this summer in the classroom learning
chemistry or physics. He chose chemistry.
Mike Gaudino will have a short period of time to master the
complicated subject, but the La Canada High boys’ volleyball player
will undoubtedly find time to dabble with improving his volleyball
Like a chemist, Gaudino is determined to combine the right
elements to make his life successful, academically and athletically.
After Gaudino put an exclamation mark on his best season, he’ll
look to again shoulder the load next season. With a heavy schedule
load that will feature reading textbooks and studying for
examinations, betting against the senior-to-be outside hitter might
not be wise because he’s already finding ways to keep improving he
and the Spartans.
“I’ll be working hard this summer, and I’ll be playing in a lot of
tournaments in the state and around the country,” said Gaudino, who
was selected as the All-Area Player of the Year by the sportswriters
and editors of the Glendale News-Press, Foothill Leader and Burbank
Leader. “I want to get better and I want to make my team better.”
The 17-year-old Gaudino finished with an area-best 405 kills in 15
matches and led the Spartans (11-8) to their first trip to the CIF
playoffs since 2001. Though La Canada fell to host Oak Park in a CIF
Southern Section Division IV first-round match, the 6-foot-3 Gaudino
averaged 27 kills per match this season and shared the Rio Hondo
League’s Most Valuable Player award.
The expectations will soar for Gaudino, and opponents will look to
devise a plan to decrease Gaudino’s productivity by finding creative
ideas in stopping him.
“I’ve learned that you have to keep playing within yourself,” said
Gaudino, who recorded 40-or-more kills three times. “I wasn’t
satisfied [with my season] because we lost in the first round, and we
had close games against Oak Park but just couldn’t put them away.”
Gaudino had plenty of zip once he hit the ball over the net. In
eight league matches, he averaged 27.8 kills.
He finished with 41 kills to give the host Spartans a
come-from-behind league victory against South Pasadena, which
advanced to the championship match of the Division IV playoffs
against Oaks Christian, on April 21.
Following the path blazed by his older sister and brother hasn’t
been a problem for Gaudino, who became the third family member to
achieve All-Area Player of the Year status since 1999.
Kelly Gaudino, Mike’s sister, was the 1999 All-Area Player of the
Year. Kelly, an outside hitter, concluded her La Canada career with
684 kills, 184 aces and 82 blocks and was twice named the league’s
most valuable player before competing at the collegiate level at UC
Following Kelly was Greg Gaudino, Mike’s brother. Greg, a stalwart
middle blocker, was the league co-most valuable player and was
selected All-Area Player of the Year in 2002. He now is a member of
the USC basketball program.
The Gaudinos occasionally spend time making their separate cases
about who the best player has been at La Canada.
“We are always talking about volleyball at the dinner table,” said
Mike, who averaged nearly 18 kills per match in 2004. “Greg and I
make fun of Kelly by telling her to hit the ball instead of tipping
it [over the net].
“Then Kelly will say, ‘Go play four years in college, and then get
back to me.’”
Kelly’s salvo might be enough to ignite Mike for his senior
season, and, perhaps a lengthy collegiate career.
Greg, who is an economics major, said Mike’s a more complete
player than he was through their junior years.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
MIKE GAUDINO * LA CANADA *
JUNIOR * OUTSIDE HITTER
* Co-Most Valuable Player of the Rio Hondo League with South
Pasadena’s Neil Bell
* Recorded area-best 415 kills in 15 matches this year
* Had 40-or-more kills three times and 20-or-more kills nine times
* Averaged 27 kills per match and 27.8 kills per league match
* Helped Spartans (11-8) advance to CIF Southern Section playoffs
for the first time since 2001
ALL-AREA FIRST TEAM
Stuart Lange * Crescenta Valley Senior * Outside Hitter
All-CIF Division II selection led Falcons in kills, digs and aces
Kyle Roach * Crescenta Valley Senior * Setter
All-Pacific League first-team member had team-best 730 assists
Alex Knopper * Providence Junior * Middle Blocker
Earned All-CIF Division V honors after finishing year with 216
kills and 182 digs
Justin Corio * St. Francis Senior * Outside Hitter
Named to the Mission League’s second team after 163-kill season
Graham Bradley * Flintridge Prep Senior * Outside Hitter
Earned All-CIF Division V second-team honors after recording 218
Dennis Flynn * Flintridge Prep Senior * Middle Blocker
Notched team-best 322 kills to earn Prep League MVP and All-CIF
Sean Beattie * Flintridge Prep Coach of the Year
Guided a deep Rebel team to the CIF Southern Section D-V
ALL-AREA SECOND TEAM
* Vinson Ching * Glendale * Senior * Outside Hitter
Lone Nitro named to the first-team All-Pacific League squad
* Joe Hummel * La Canada * Junior * Outside Hitter
All-league member had a .598 hitting percentage in league
* Jeff Kurgus * Providence * Junior * Setter
First-team All-Liberty League pick had 521 assists
* Jeff Russell * Flint. Prep * Senior * Setter
All-CIF Division V third-team athlete had 786 assists
* C.J. Walker * St. Francis * Senior * Outside Hitter
Had 168 kills and was the Golden Knights’ go-to athlete
* Julian Zielonka * Crescenta Valley * Senior * Outside Hitter
All-Pacific League first-team pick had 223 kills and 227 digs