Former San Benito High and Gavilan College standout Erica Chapa has already started practice for the Cal State University Monterey Bay women’s volleyball team. In fact, this week the Otters have been engaged in some serious training, with two practice sessions each day to go along with team activities in between.
Having landed an athletic scholarship after two outstanding seasons at Gavilan, Chapa’s career has come full circle. Ignored by four-year schools coming out of high school, Chapa thought her volleyball career was over when she enrolled at San Francisco State for the 2014-2015 school year.
Throughout the entire year, Chapa knew she had plenty of game left. So she decided to transfer to Gavilan after one year in San Francisco, and it turned out to be one of the best—if not the best—decisions she’s ever made. A dynamic setter, Chapa had a tremendous freshman season at Gavilan followed by a spectacular sophomore campaign, culminating in her being named the Gavilan College Student-Athlete of the Year for 2016-2017.
Chapa earned the special honor by excelling in academic achievement, leadership, athletic contributions and involvement in the community. She finished her career as the most decorated volleyball player in Gavilan history, piling up a litany of honors in both the indoor game and outdoor beach volleyball.
Last winter, Chapa helped lead the Rams to their first-ever appearance in the state championships. Chapa earned All-American honors to go along with All-State, First Team honors. A couple of months later, Chapa earned a spot in the NorCal Championships in beach volleyball. Off the court, Chapa was equally as proficient. She posted a cumultative 3.38 GPA while earning both the Dean’s and Scholar-Athlete academic honors. Chapa also has served as an assistant coach for the Crush and Rush Volleyball Clubs for the past three years, which included giving individual lessons.
“On behalf of the Rams Athletic Department, we’d like to congratulate Erica on her accomplishments and wish her the best of luck as she moves forward with her studies and athletic career at CSUMB,” said Gavilan Dean of Kinesiology & Athletics Ron Hannon via a press release. “We are extremely proud of her accomplishments on and off the court. But we’re even more excited about the terrific person that she has evolved into while being at Gavilan. She has an unbelievably exciting future in front of her.”
Rams coach Kevin Kramer has been effusive in his praise for Chapa for the last several years, noting Chapa’s talent, work ethic, character and competitiveness. Kramer knew Chapa was a four-year caliber type player, and yet many of the Division II programs in the same conference Cal State Monterey Bay competes in—the California Collegiate Athletic Association—didn’t even so much give her a lookover.
“You know it was their loss and our gain, and now it’s Cal State Monterey Bay’s gain for sure,” said Kramer, who added that Chapa’s greatest attribute is her maniacal competitiveness. “Erica loves to compete, and it doesn’t matter what it is. She’ll engage you in a conversation and an argument, and she might not even believe in that argument but will argue just to engage you. I could put her on any team in any sport—male or female—and she would come out as one of the most competitive players on the field. She lives to compete and it doesn’t matter what it is.”
Kramer said his kids, Kierra and Colton, absolutely adore Chapa. In fact, as Kramer was talking on the phone to this reporter, Kierra yelled out, “I love Erica!”
“She’s been an inspiration to my kids,” Kramer said. “My daughter even wears a ponytail to her sides like Erica does when she’s playing.”
Chapa has come a long way, and she’s not done yet. She’s expected to make an immediate impact for the Otters, who are trying to rebound from last year’s 15-23 record.