Origenes “Kiko” Benoit has an unquestionable passion for volleyball.
He has spent 20 years at Miami Dade College, the past 10 seasons as head coach of the Lady Sharks volleyball team.
During his tenure as head coach, Benoit’s athletes have won seven state titles and finished as the National Junior College Athletic Association national runner-ups three times.
He has never lost his love for the game.
“It is a very fun sport. First of all, it’s a team sport,” Benoit said. “You have to do things together. Someone has to pass, someone has to set, someone has to spike, play defense, serve. I always like to work as a team. I’m a team player. ”
Benoit was born on Oct. 18, 1971, at a Dominican military base in the city of San Isidro, Dominican Republic. Benoit’s father, Origenes Benoit Sr., was a member of the army.
His family has a long lineage Dominican military veterans. Aside from Benoit’s father, his grandfather and uncles were part of the Dominican air force branch.
Despite the long-standing military heritage in his family, Benoit had no interest in following in their footsteps.
“I used to tell my grandfather: ‘I’m not going to go into the military,” Benoit said. “I was never going to become an army guy or marine guy. It just wasn’t meant to be for me; I never liked that since the beginning.”
Benoit’s introduction to volleyball was largely due to his older sister, Maria Del Carmen Benoit, who played for the air force’s women’s volleyball team.
When Benoit played for the junior air force baseball team as a child, the field they would practice in was next to the volleyball court his sister’s volleyball team played at. After baseball practice, Benoit would move on to the volleyball court and observe his sister’s team practice. It was there that Benoit developed his love for the game.
He trained on the fundamental aspects of volleyball by hitting the ball against the wall.
Benoit eventually moved to the United States with his family when he was 13.
While attending American Senior High School in the late 1980s, Benoit wanted to continue his volleyball career but found it difficult because the school did not have a men’s volleyball program.
“It was tough for [those of us] that loved volleyball,” Benoit said.
Benoit joined community recreational volleyball leagues to supplement his love for the game. After graduating high school in 1990, it became even more difficult to find ways to play volleyball, so Benoit focused on his studies.
He earned his associate’s degree from MDC and a bachelor’s of science degree in general education, with a minor in psychology, from Columbia College of Missouri.
Benoit’s first foray into coaching was as a volunteer for the Lady Sharks volleyball team in the late 1990s. At the time, the volleyball team was spearheaded by Ilida Medero, one of the all-time winningest coaches in the National Junior College Athletic Association and an inductee into the Florida College System Activities Association Hall of Fame.
Medero was impressed with how Benoit conducted himself and his work ethic.
“From the moment that I met him and that he started working with [the volleyball team], I felt that he was a good match for our team,” Medero said. “He had a lot of knowledge. He was very ethical and was very respectful of my players, so I thought that would be a good balance for my team.”
When Medero retired due to illnesses and physical ailments, Benoit was her choice.
“I started thinking about ‘who could be my successor? Who could possibly replace me?’ because I did not want to leave the team in unknown hands,” Medero said. “I spoke with Kiko and I said: ‘I’m going to step down from coaching, and I would appreciate it if you would remain with the team and if you could become the head coach and you could choose your assistant coaches.’”
Benoit officially took the reigns as head coach of the women’s volleyball team in 2005. By that time, he had worked his way through the MDC volleyball ranks—first as a hitting coach then as an assistant coach and finally making it to head coach.
“Throughout the years he has done an excellent job, and will continue to do so,” Medero said.