Mexico City, Mexico, June 5, 2016 - Mexican assistant coach Ivan Contreras, considered one of the best volleyball players of all time in Mexico, sets the bar high for new generations playing for the national team at the Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament in Mexico City.
It’s been four years since Mexican Contreras decided to retire after 21 successful years as a volleyball player. In fact, his last tournament wearing Mexico’s national shirt was in the past Olympic Qualification Tournament in Long Beach in 2012.
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But he has been still playing a leading role in Mexican volleyball while coaching who used to be his teammates and newcomers, and making important decisions from the bench during the past four years.
Contreras has been considered the best Mexican volleyball player ever because since he was first called to be member of Mexico’s national senior team in 1991, being still a teen ager, his presence in the court was noticeable. Not many thought that the 13 year old invited by Pedro Tovar, who began his first days in volleyball back home in Ciudad Tampico, would become an inspiration and example for his country.
During the 2011 Guadalajara Pan American Games everyone set an eye on his remarkable performance. He made everyone believe that Mexico could win a Pan American medal, losing the bronze medal to Argentina.
Contreras on attack during the FIVB Men's Volleyball World Championships Italy 2010
While representing Mexico he was offered an opportunity to play for Penn State University in United States. Contreras is the first Mexican with an outstanding performance in volleyball at College level in the United States. In 1994 he was recognized as part of the second All-American team for the NCAA-AVCA division, from 1995 to 1997 he made the first All-Amercian team, and if that wasn’t enough, he was named NCAA “Player of the Year” in 1997.
Contreras was described as once in a lifetime player as he became part of the 2014 Hall of Fame Class of Penn State University.
After graduating from college, Contreras pursued a professional volleyball career playing for several clubs in Europe and in Puerto Rico. He played in Switzerland for the MTV Näffels, in Belgium for the Knack Roeselare, in Turkey for Ziraak Bankasi and in France for the AC Ajaccio. In Puerto Rico he was part of Gigantes de Adjuntas and Leones de Ponce. In all five countries he received several awards as MVP of the season and of hi club.
Contreras now passes on his experience to Mexico’s national team as Assistant coach, earning the respect and admiration from all the members of the team, as they are on aiming on making the Olympic dream come true.