With only a few months until their season begins, the Goshen College men’s volleyball team prepares to compete as a relatively new team.This year’s team features a significantly different roster from the one fans saw last season. With only one starter returning, senior Ian Fox, many of the team’s players are new. Despite these new players, however, the team as a whole isn’t necessarily young; the group includes two first-years, one sophomore, four juniors, four seniors and two fifth-year players.
To prepare for the season, players have been engaging in fall practice. Fall ball allows players to tune their specific skills and weaknesses as well as learn how to compete as a team. On the side, players have been in the gym and conditioning.
“More time in the weight room equals less time in the training room,” said Lauren Ford, head coach.
Apart from training, the team is trying to familiarize themselves with one another and become the best that they can be before competitions begin in January.
“It is never easy to lose the majority of your starters,” Ford said, “especially ones that have been here since the beginning of the program, but this year it is vital we focus on ourselves and make sure we rebuild the foundation the seniors from last year built. We have a unique opportunity this year to grow in different directions than this program has previously seen.”
Hasan Hadzic, a junior transfer from Division I school Long Island University, agrees that the team has the potential to make some noise this season. He notes that the players have a work ethic different from anything he’s seen before, which is only helping them become stronger.
“Guys are pushing each other to work more, be more responsible in our duties — volleyball and school,” said Hadzic, “and that is one of the best things I like about this team.”
He also notes that the returning players took in their new teammates instantly, creating a strong team bond.
“Everyone is always there for me and they make me feel like I have been a part of this team for a long time.”
Looking ahead, the team is excited to compete in the spring. Last season, the men went 20-9 overall and 7-7 in conference. The goals for this season remain sound, allowing players to continue to strive for more.
“We always want to compete in every match,” Ford said. “We want to be better than we were the day before. We want to make conference and national tournaments. Those are always the goals.”
Hadzic agrees with his coach, but is also looking beyond the horizon of conference, seeing the potential in his teammates’ abilities.
“Maybe it’s going to sound too ambitious of me to say, but I think the conference should be our smallest problem,” Hadzic said. “Of course, right now the main goal and focus is on the conference, and the team won’t be satisfied with anything less than first place. After we finish the regular season in the conference, we can start working on the next step.”
What the next step will be is hard to say, as the team will need to take this season one game at a time. Despite the unknown, Hadzic is excited to begin the upcoming season with his new teammates.
“I don’t want to make any promises to fans about wins, because volleyball is a sport that depends on a lot of factors. But what I can promise is that every player and staff member will give their 100% in every game.”