By Melanie DaSilva
The Sacred Heart men’s volleyball team was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Honor Roll for the 2016-2017 school year. This was also the second consecutive year that the Pioneers received recognition for their dedication to their studies.
The AVCA Team Academic Award is given out yearly to volleyball teams that maintain a 3.30 GPA as a collective team.
“The second year we got it, to me, wasn’t so much of a surprise,” said head coach Gregory Walker. “We monitor their academics pretty well so we knew we were on track to getting it.”
According to Sacred Heart Athletic Communications, the 19 players on the roster last year together earned a 3.465 GPA during the entire academic year. The Pioneers had the third highest GPA out of all men’s teams during the fall and the spring semesters.
There is a strong focus emphasized by the coaches on time management to get both work on and off the court for players. It shows not only proper discipline, but as a result it also helps with the team’s culture.
“Greg gives us a lot of time to do work outside of volleyball,” said senior Joshua Ayzenberg. “He knows class comes first and he stresses that every single day.”
Walker makes it clear to his players that school is a priority that has to come before volleyball, and that makes them strive to excel in the classroom.
“He’s always coming to us, asking what can be done do to make a situation better. ‘I’ll get you a tutor, we can figure it out’,” said senior Taylor Bloomquist. “They are always with us each step of the way.”
Not only did Walker help his players perform well in the classroom with their grades, he also helped his team become successful on the court. According to Sacred Heart Communications the Sacred Heart Men’s Volleyball team had one of their best seasons in history. With an overall record of 15-11 they earned the third seed in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) Tournament.
“That discipline that they had on the court was visible in the classroom with how hard they were working, said Walker. “Especially with us making post season, that meant they had to do a lot of their homework towards the end of the semester, and also prepare for finals. They had to take care of all of that stuff before we hit the road.”
It is a team policy of Walker’s that his players must finish all of their work before they leave. They do not want to ask their professors if their players can have extra time to get their work done.
Walker is adding around seven members to the team for the 2017-2018 season, including both freshmen and transfers. While going through the recruitment process, Walker lets them know how important it is to excel in the classroom. He also looks at how hard his future players work in high school because he knows that their hard work will carry over to college.
“If you put in the time, then you’ll be fine,” said Bloomquist. “Pretty much just don’t be lazy.”
The seniors understand that they are really going to have to stress to new team members how important academics is to their team culture.
“We just have to focus on the fact that they can ask us questions and learn from us, because we have been here for a couple of years and we understand what it takes to do well both athletically and academically,” said Ayzenberg. “If you have a really busy schedule, make a calendar, set a to do list, and prioritize.”