116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MOUNT VERNON - Dolfi Kalm is a 76-year-old volleyball guru.
He still plays at a national level and, after more than three decades of coaching, still is physically involved in practices.
'I wish people knew the depth of his commitment as a friend and a mentor,” Mount Vernon head coach Maggie Willems said.
Willems certainly does. She nominated Kalm for the Iowa Girls Coaches Association 2018 assistant coach of the year.
'I was totally in shock,” Kalm said.
Kalm once was the head coach at Solon High School, one of Mount Vernon's biggest rivals. Before joining Willems' Mustang staff three years ago, he spent around eight years as an assistant with the Spartans.
Willems and Kalm were pitted against each other for more than 20 years.
In the 1990s, Willems played for the Mustangs when Kalm was the head coach at Solon.
'I've known who Dolfi was for over 20 years,” Willems said.
But the rivalry didn't end there. When Willems became head coach for Mount Vernon, the two began coaching against each other.
The rivalry reached its peak in 2014 when Solon and Mount Vernon played for the Class 3A state championship.
Solon beat Mount Vernon, and the following year Kalm moved to Mount Vernon.
'I struggled with that decision,” he said.
When Kalm's granddaughter began playing club volleyball for Mount Vernon, Kalm's mind was made up.
'It gave me the opportunity to help coach my granddaughter,” he said.
Unfortunately, his granddaughter had a career-ending shoulder injury, but Kalm continued to coach the Mustangs.
'I think he just appreciated his opportunity,” Willems said.
Kalm wasn't always a volleyball guru. At first, he was just a teacher at Solon.
'I had no idea what volleyball was other than teaching it in PE,” he said.
He never thought he would not only go on to coach for more than 30 years, but also play at national level for 14. Kalm's an outside hitter for TeamSota, which won the 2015 70-and-over gold medal at the National Senior Games in Minneapolis and took third at the 2017 Volleyball USA national championship.
Kalm will sometimes stay after practice these days, working with some of the girls and improving his own skills.
So what started as rivalry more than 20 years ago has led to selfless act to honor the most 'valuable sage in volleyball,” Willems said.
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