Karl Moehlmann remembers tying strings to bleachers and forming makeshift nets in the Cherry Hill East gym.
There wasn't much structure, not many "standards," Moehlmann concedes, when he formed the boys' volleyball program at East in 1994.
But one thing Moehlmann always had, he said, were players. Those youngsters loved the game and, it turns out, they loved their coach, too.
In a gym filled with ex-players, former coaches, family, and friends, Moehlmann became the first coach - and Cherry Hill East became the first program - in South Jersey boys' volleyball to reach the 300-win plateau Thursday in a 25-17, 25-21 victory over Clearview.
"Everybody can get to 300 if you stay long enough," said Moehlmann, 63, who still carries a German accent 34 years after moving to the United States from a small town in northern Germany. "But this is very special because we were the first to get 300, and we have the best record of any team in South Jersey in that span.
"So that's something special. We have something the whole program can be proud of and the whole school."
Despite the enormous legacy and perennial success, volleyball wasn't the first thing that current Cherry Hill East players thought of when reflecting on their veteran coach.
Instead, they think of his ability to motivate them with his "German warrior chant," a soccer-style chant, about which senior Eric Zaun acknowledges, "No one has any idea what it means, but we've been doing it for years and it really works."
They think of how Moehlmann goes out of his way to accommodate them, and work around their schedules.
And most importantly:
"I've learned a lot about life from Coach Moehlmann," said Zaun, one of the top players in the state, who is headed to Division II Limestone College. "More than just volleyball, he teaches us about character, being a good sportsman, and being a good competitor."
"He will absolutely do whatever it takes to help you, whether it's in school, volleyball, or life," senior Christian Strauss added. "He goes all out for us. And that's why we're all so proud to get this win for him. And that's why this program has remained so strong.
"There is a great legacy here at East, and it's nice to add another chapter to that."
In 18 years, East has a composite record of 300-91.
In that span, the Cougars have racked up three state championships and 11 conference titles.
Along the way, Moehlmann established respect for both himself and his program.
"He is absolutely one of the great volleyball minds in the state of New Jersey," Clearview coach Chris Adamkiewicz said. "His entire demeanor, his behavior, is outstanding. His knowledge of the game is outstanding.
"And it's a pleasure to play him, win, draw, lose, or tie."
Moehlmann admittedly grew up a "soccer guy" - he also has been coaching boys' soccer at Cherry Hill East since 1989.
He said he played volleyball in a recreational league in Germany, and a simple interest in the sport prompted him to start a program at East.
In many ways, that's still the way Moehlmann views his relationship with volleyball.
As he contemplates retirement, which he says isn't far off, the soft-spoken Moehlmann was quick to divert any credit given to him after the 300th win.
"It's really the players," he said. "Not only when they're playing, but they come back and coach and they stay involved in the program. It's the volunteers, the parents, everybody.
"It really is a group effort."
Three-hundred wins is, indeed, a group effort. But as dozens swarmed Moehlmann after the milestone, waiting to shake his hand or take a picture, it's clear that the "soccer guy" from Germany is, and always has been, the man who keeps the group together.