Volleyball - 2006
Rachel Wacholder had a year to remember in 2005 - though few could recall any single player making such an impressive ascension up the ranks in AVP (Association of Volleyball Players) tour history. In a single season, Wacholder went from considering quitting her beloved sport to ranking among the top players/teams on the tour and taking home more than her share of postseason awards hardware.
The Laguna Beach native teamed with new partner Elaine Youngs to reach eight-of-12 finals during the AVP regular season and, moreover, toppling Olympic gold medalists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh in championship matches in Cincinnati, Huntington Beach and Boulder.
For her efforts, the 30-year-old had a major presence at the 2005 AVP Awards, taking home two of the six women’s trophies presented that night. Wacholder was deemed the AVP Women’s Best Defensive Player and Most Improved Player. She competed in all but one of the season’s Final Four, collected three championship titles and had a second-place finish at the AVP Las Vegas Aquafina Shootout. Ranking first in kills this season and second in digs, Wacholder was also seventh in hitting percentage, 13th in kill percentage and 22nd in aces.
After accumulating just $83,575 in domestic earnings from 1999 to 2004, Wacholder cashed $118,175 in AVP tour checks in 2005 - and her five FIVB (Federation Internationale de Volleyball) payoffs raised that total to $154,375. Wacholder joined teammate Youngs, May-Treanor and Walsh as the first four women to earn over $100,000 in a season in the history of the women’s beach game in the United States. And there’s no sign Wacholder is looking back.
The Laguna Beach, California native got her first real taste of the high life in 2004 when Walsh chose her as a substitute partner while May-Treanor was sidelined with an abdominal injury. The duo placed third in their initial tourney together in Norway, then bagged wins in France and Austria (Grand Slam event).
Wacholder, who is half Canadian, combines finesse, aggressiveness and intelligence with sound fundamentals. Playing well above her 5’9" frame, Wacholder was a four-year starter at the University of Colorado, earning Big 12 All-Conference honors for her indoor performances. She also coached at Mira Costa High School.