Zachary Gray – Sports Editor
On this small campus in Auburndale, Mass. walks a sophomore student-athlete standing at six feet, four inches tall. Although his height stretches great lengths, the distance Abdulrehman “Rocky” Khan has traveled to Lasell is far greater.
Originally from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the volleyball player spent the most of his high school years at the Karachi American School in Karachi, Pakistan. Not only did Khan’s education move to Pakistan, but his nickname made the travel as well. It was back in fourth grade when Khan was making jokes about his teacher in the middle of class that resulted in a detention. At detention, the teacher gave him the nickname “Rocky” simply because he couldn’t pronounce Khan’s name.
The name stuck throughout his time at the American International School of Jeddah. The move to Pakistan was a golden opportunity for Khan to teach everyone his real name, but two teachers also made the move from Saudi Arabia to Karachi. “I prefer my real name,” said Khan. “But I don’t mind Rocky. That’s what everyone calls me, so I’m used to it.”
Khan’s love for volleyball didn’t start at an early age. His four-year volleyball career in high school is thanks to his brother’s experience with the sport. “We’d have one tournament that he’d travel to in a different city,” said Rocky. “He came back and told me all about it and I was like, ‘I want to have fun also.’ I did it and had a blast.”
Throughout his four years of high school, both in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Khan was dominating the game. “Over there, I’m like a giant,” said Khan. “A person who is seven feet here is what I was back home.” The average height for an adult male is 5’ 10” in the Middle East.
Height was a big part of Khan’s early success, but his skill needed improvement. On the first day of tryouts at Lasell last season, Khan struggled. “I’ll admit it, I was so bad,” said Khan. “I [thought] ‘there is no way I’m going to make this team.’” Throughout practices, head coach Tom Olson and others helped improve the sophomore’s ability. “It helped me get a lot better,” said Khan. Because of his hard work and dedication, Khan received the most improved player award for the team.
Life in America has gone well for the middle hitter. While he’s gained friends and experiences, Khan has gained learning experiences, as well. “I feel like I’ve been exposed to a whole lot more,” said Khan. Back home, it was common to be escorted places via drivers and guards; here, Khan is doing it on his own.
The upcoming season looks promising for Khan and the men’s volleyball team. The team has added numerous talented freshmen, adding much needed depth to the squad. Khan is looking forward to the season and believes the team will make a serious run come playoff time. “During the summer…I was counting down the days,” said Khan. “I’m ready to go.”