SOCIAL MEDIA FEEDS
For the 2020 NVA season, LA Blaze is excited to showcase its diverse, experienced roster, and they are looking to show the league what they can do.
In the outside hitter position, Blaze touts some good talent on its roster. They include Long Beach City College alum Andrew Pearson, Golden West College product Alvin Truong, and up-and-coming Puerto Rican star Wilson Martir.
In the middle, LA Blaze has picked up the high-flying Deshaun Graham, former Cal State Northridge star Greg Faulkner, Puerto Rican national team player Pedro Nieves, 6’10” strong-man Shane Welch, and Victor Villarreal.
On the right side, LA has Joseph Cuevas, who brings tremendous experience to the team with over seven years of professional volleyball experience. Joseph is backed up by Marques Buggs, who has had successful careers at Golden West College and Long Beach City, and Hope/LBCC standout Charles Belvin.
For non-hitters, LA Blaze is led by experienced setter Michael Vellutato. On the libero side of things, Blaze is helped by three very capable players; Maxwell Garris from UC Santa Cruz, Puerto Rican stud Ricardo Massanet, and the experienced, former OC Stunner, Jake Hurwitz.
The team will be led by Coach Edison Zhou, a former Chinese National Team Setter, and General Manager Cynthia Buggs, a Long Beach State alumni.
Joseph Andrew Cuevas Torres, LA Blaze’s veteran opposite, sat down over facetime to be interviewed about his volleyball career, thoughts on the NVA, and his current pandemic lifestyle. Managing to stay busy during COVID-19, Joseph has been preparing for hurricane season, grabbing extra backup generators for his apartment in Puerto Rico. Despite minimal storms since Hurricane Maria, he said “you still need to be prepared, especially with eight separate tropical storms predicted on the horizon.”
Joseph started playing volleyball when he was 11 years old; He first saw the game when he skipped class in middle school and happened to walk past the high school team playing three on three. “People weren’t as big back then, so it was crazy for me to see how they played and used ball control,” Joseph explained. He received a scholarship to play in high school at San Felipe Catholic School, later going on to play at Mount Olive College.
After college, Joseph has held an impressive professional volleyball career, not only in Puerto Rico but all across the world. His resume includes the Nara Dreamers (Nara, Japan), AsFar Rabat (Rabat, Morocco), OK Fuzinar Metal Ravne (Ravne Na Koroškem, Slovenia), Iraklis Halkidas (Thessaloniki, Greece), Al-Ittihad Club (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), Caribes de San Sebastian (San Sebastian, Puerto Rico) and Indios de Mayaguez (Mayagüez,Puerto Rico). While a member of LA Blaze Joseph is still getting offers from teams overseas. However, due to the lack of team training and access to gyms, Joseph wants to take more time to get back into playing shape before taking on a new contract.
With the start of the lockdown, Joseph returned home to Puerto Rico to be close to family and develop some business ventures of his own. His daily routine has consisted of working on his souped-up muscle car, getting some home workouts in, and renovating an apartment to turn into an Airbnb. He discussed the current struggle with getting that Airbnb started while competing against local hotels who continually lower their prices as they try to increase tourism during a pandemic. Joseph has also invested in becoming a co-manager of a local bakery in Lares calledPanaderia Y Reposteria El Paraiso!
“Oh, I’m keeping myself busy, you know...but now I’m getting so busy that I forget that we have a pandemic and I always go out and have to turn around and go back home to get a mask,” Joseph remarked.
With minimal opportunity to play volleyball, Joseph was reminiscing about the NVA’s trip to China last year. Joseph hopes the NVA can genuinely be a “National” volleyball league that mirrors how America embraces different nationalities. With the Matadors representing many Puerto Rican and Mexican players, Joseph thinks it could be possible to have other teams with players representing their nationalities. He shared his relationship with the Indocan Volleyball Club players, which holds tournaments for Indian teams in both America and Canada. Suppose there were teams cultivated from the Indocan or even from 9 Man leagues (9 person volleyball popularized in Asian American players) for the NVA. In that case, Joseph believes it would be an excellent step for the NVA to continue to gain international recognition and popularity.
Since the lockdown, living in Hermosa Beach has helped LA Blaze Middle Blocker Greg Faulkner to stay busy and in shape by playing with that community's group of beach volleyball players. "We all have our own gear that we can still set up, and we all have good relationships with the police there who have been nice enough to let us keep playing," said Faulkner. The same goes for his coaching gigs at Surfside Volleyball Club and Palos Verdes High School. Needing to limit practices in the gym, Greg has found it more comfortable to transition his teams to the beach where there is less risk of transmission of the Virus. He remarked, "Anything I can do to help my players stay in shape, especially the ones getting ready for their high school and middle school seasons." Aside from coaching and playing, Greg says he's been working his way up on the leaderboards on the famous online video game Call of Duty: Warzone. Most of all, Greg's biggest concern has been staying in contact with friends and family as much as possible.
Greg also shared a project that he has been working on with other NCAA college coaches and players during the lockdown. This group aims to provide student-athletes of color a support network for advice, where they can discuss and share any issues they are dealing with. They have started off by covering organizations in the BIG West Conference, hoping to grow further to help all colleges across the nation. "Issues have happened in the past years that not everyone has spoken upon. It's just nice to be able to have that opportunity to speak on these issues, especially during the pandemic. It's been vital to helping these players know they are not alone, especially during isolation." Other notable names working on this mission are Theo Edwards (CSUN), Joshua Walker (University of Hawaii), Spencer Fredrick (UCSB), Damani Lenore (CSUN), Aniefre Thomas (University of Hawaii), Josiah Byers (CSUN), Arvis Greene (CSUN).
Follow along with Greg on his ventures both on the court and off through the Blaze, and his own, social media accounts.
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LAST MATCH Nov 07, 2020
25-17 | 15-25 | 25-16 | 25-22 |