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For the first time in 31 years, Walt Stefani is not on the sidelines for the Orchard Park volleyball team. The longtime coach retired after a career of helping shape the sport across Western New York, but will still be active as a volunteer assistant coach with the women’s volleyball team at Canisius College.

Stefani led Orchard Park to a 559-159 record (a .779 winning percentage), won 17 ECIC championships, nine Section VI Class A titles, and three intersectional matches. He retired from teaching at OP in 2012.

He was coach of the Quakers for all but five seasons since 1979 and was the boys basketball coach from 1985-1994. His volleyball teams were undefeated in 1991 (25-0) and 2008 (34-0). In 2011 he was inducted into the WNY Men’s Volleyball Hall of Fame. He’s a seven-time WNY Coach of the Year.

Current OP coach Matt Lexner had shared the varsity coaching job with Stefani since 2001. He worked at his camp since 1992 and the Power Station Volleyball Club since 1994.

“He basically put Orchard Park volleyball on the map. Sweet Home, Orchard Park and Iroquois dominated in the ‘70s. When he finally started to beat those guys, Orchard Park had arrived and has been a powerhouse ever since,” said Lexner. “He brought Orchard Park volleyball from nothing to relevance, and from the best we can determine, probably the best Class A program in the state for over 20 years.”

— Mary Jo Monnin