The adult team from left to right, top to bottom: Galen Meyer, Dane Meyer, Haylei Meyer, Van Schumm, Al Schumm, Nettie Wright, and Toni Godes. Photo courtesy of Toni Godes

By Toni Godes 

Longtime Cordovan Al Cave, a high school math teacher and the first Cordova High School volleyball coach, began City League Volleyball around 1993, recalls City League player and Cordova Junior High volleyball coach Nettie (Lohse) Wright. Physical therapist and highly skilled volleyball enthusiast Foley Weems ran down the sponsors and organized.  

Nettie’s older sister Robin was in the first class to begin their Cordova volleyball career in seventh grade coached by teacher Terri Stavig, and then with Beth Trowbridge the following year. The year was 1990, the year after the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. That same group of girls went on to take second in State their senior year.  

“Nikiski was our nemesis. They beat us in the semis in ’93…In ’95 they beat us in five in the title game. It was our only loss of that year. We finally beat Nikiski in four in ’96 for the [State] title,” Coach Cave remembers.  

Nettie, two years behind Robin, was part of that team and the team that won State for Cordova for the first time. Rochelle Anderson, Pam Van den Broek, Katie McHone, Allison Miner, Julie Kaltenekker, and Florissa Espejo, were some of those first lady Wolverines to go through the full program and take 3A State. This last fall season was Cordova High School’s 33rd year of girls’ volleyball and this spring is Cordova City League’s 30th year. 

Coach Cave had the pioneering role of educating this small, rural, fishing town about the game of volleyball.  


“He had to drum up interest and support among the community for this all-new and unknown sport,” Nettie recollects. It was a game that neither Cave nor Stavig had ever played. Imagine coaching a sport you’ve never played, all in the days before the internet and YouTube. By the time Coach Cave coached my daughter in 2004, he was an excellent player and coach of volleyball (and basketball), with a legacy to prove it. 

Al started City League to encourage his players to have fun and play in the off-season. With no club sports or volleyball camps, it is difficult for our teams to compete with the more urban teams on the road system. Having a city league answered many of those needs. City League allows kids more time with the ball and opportunities to ref and develop leadership skills in a coach-free, laid-back and supportive environment. The mix of ages all having fun together is one of my favorite aspects of the league — it is a real community builder!  

Janice Warga remembers playing that first year of City League, in between longline openers on the F/V Lady L. Due to a shoulder issue (probably originating from her college pitching days), Janice stopped playing a few years back after 25 years of City League. These days, we typically have 8-10 teams, which include 1-2 high school girl teams, and occasionally a junior high team. Additionally, students sometimes play with adults; sometimes there are all-boy or coed high school teams. It has been fun to see so many more boys also excited about volleyball! We always have Coast Guard players and occasionally they form teams, depending on the schedule of the cutter (unfortunately, this is the time of year they typically do a lot of buoy maintenance and leave port halfway through the season). Many Cordova Wolverine star alumni, including Nettie, play in the league and are fabulous role models for all of us! 

After Al Cave, John Harding and then Bruce Campbell carried the torch, ensuring City League continued. Currently, Grace Lee and myself have been organizing the league. I am especially thankful for Grace’s work with the scheduling and Junior Tegan Hesse’s help with net set-up. City League continues the tradition of supporting high school teams in every way we can, but I can speak to the fact that it is also extremely valuable to adults and the community for all of the same reasons that sports are good for kids. The $25 adult player fee (students are free) goes toward paying for the gym rental, and any money leftover is available for whatever equipment needs the high school team has, whether balls, nets, or ref stands. 

Cordova City League Volleyball 2024 begins March 18 and runs through the last week of April on Mondays and Wednesdays 7-9 p.m. at the Cordova High School gym. If you would like to play, but don’t have a team yet, please call Toni Godes 907-831-9286 or Grace Lee 218-340-9758, or show up at open gym at the Bidarki before the league to get connected to a team. The league is very inclusive, open to all skill levels, students and adults alike, from seventh grade to old-school players like myself.