If you have watched the Hawaii men's volleyball team at any point over the last four years, you've heard the name Siki Zarkovic a lot, but that's not the only Zarkovic on the roster. Milan, Siki's father, has been with the program for three seasons now as an assistant coach and as the biggest character.
"It's an adventure, there's no question," said head coach Charlie Wade. "We lead the league in hugs, that's a prerequisite."
Originally from Serbia, Milan has quickly discovered the simple pleasures of American culture in his short time in the United States.
"Ribs," said the elder Zarkovic. "Best I've ever tried. Maybe I like ribs too much."
Milan has a knack for keeping things loose in the locker room and being able to connect with college student-athletes in a way most 52-year-old men don't. Whether it is the dancing or the frequent trips to Bass Pro Shops and the 99-cent store for cowboy hats, Milan is always the life of the party.
"He's always trying to entertain other people," said the younger Zarkovic. "He loves being surrounded by people and that's how he enjoys the moment."
Beyond the antics, Milan's volleyball resume is extensive. A standout for the Serbian National Team in his playing days, led to coaching stops with the Yugoslavian and Serbian Junior National Teams, as well the Belarusian Senior National Team and professional clubs throughout Europe. He had options, but decided on UH and reuniting with Siki.
"This place is a special place," said Milan. "You coach volleyball and you feel special, and you play volleyball and feel special."
Milan's passion for the game is unquestioned. His energy is unparalleled.
"It's contagious," said senior libero Kolby Kanetake. "It makes everyone play with the same amount of energy, and it's huge."
Spend even a brief amount of time around Milan, or just watch him on the sidelines at a match, and you'll see this is him all the time.
"That stuff you can't fake, it's real,"said Wade. "That's the thing that I think comes across with him, that it's real, that he really cares."
The players consider Milan a second father, but his biological son Siki's UH career will come to an end after this season. While the younger Zarkovic will have a chance to play professionally abroad, Milan doesn't plan on leaving the islands anytime soon.
"As long as I see in the eyes of the people of Hawaii, and the people in the athletic department, and in Charlie and the volleyball staff, that shine and that enthusiasm and that accepting of my giving and my readiness to give everything, I will stay as long as I recognize that."
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