On Feb. 27, the Wilson College Men’s Volleyball team competed for the first time on their home court. While they were able to win one set they unfortunately were not able to beat the Bard College Raptors. However, they were able to win the attention of the fans. With over 100 fans in attendance it is hard not to get caught up in the excitement as Aaron Hoke sent the ball flying over the net with what fans have dubbed “the Hoke Smash”, and soccer stars Allen Bull ’19 and Michael Martin ’19 making their debut on the court. Some may have been surprised to see Jessie Thrush ’17, Hanna Quarry ’19, and Carrie Whitman ’19 competing for the men’s team. Head Coach, Jason Barshinger explains “Because of Title IX…Because we don’t have a women’s program, we are able to have women play on the men’s team.” Don’t let the surprise fool you, these women have been playing just as hard as their male counter parts and have been fairly accepted during the season. “What’s been great about it is it’s been accepted very well by the teams that we’ve been playing. I’d say about 95% of the teams have been highly respectful of them,” says Barshinger, “The ladies are tough as nails, they’re working hard.”
The team itself is made up of mostly freshmen, allowing Coach Barshinger to focus on molding his players for the upcoming years, “This year was about building, we wanted to make sure that we were building a successful program, right attitude, right demeanor for the upcoming years.” Player Evan Hoke ’19 is very supportive of the team’s direction, “It’s exciting, it’s nice because we get to really set the pace for the next year. We don’t really win a lot but that’s not really the goal this year I don’t think, we want to get a good foundation for the program.” While the team may not be winning they have definitely shown their prowess as a first-time competitor. As Coach Barshinger says “25-22 loss at the end there has been kinda were we’ve been at.. I’d like to say about 35% of our losses have been 5 points or less and that’s a lot and for a first year program that has 4 players who’ve played before and a number of players who have never played or never played at this level, it’s impressive that we’ve continued to show up and work hard and develop ourselves as a team and individually.” He recognizes that his core value for the team has been “to get better every single day.”
Hoke sees a bright future for the team as they continue to improve, “We’re there, we can compete it’s just difficult right now because but we don’t really have the experience that other teams have. We’ll get there eventually, but not right now.” But as the journey continues both Hoke and Zach Zerr ’19 are enjoying being mentors for their teammates. Hoke smiled uncertainly as he said, “I hopefully inspire the team to work harder, I hope.” While Zerr laughed as he commented “I enjoy being a leader on the team, it’s a fun process of being a mentor.” Both freshmen are enjoying their time on the team learning new skills and working together, “I’m making a lot of friends, it’s been a really good time I really like both of the coaches a lot” says Zerr. As Hoke says about being on the first men’s volleyball team, “It’s exciting, I don’t know how else to describe it, it’s cool being able to start something, you know?”
It has been an incredible journey as the men’s volleyball season ends its first run, but we look forward to seeing where the team goes.