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Volleyball’s band of brothers
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Volleyball’s known for being an “extreme” team sport. You could put it down to the intensity of the game: the small court, lightening spikes and three-touch rule. But while many teams have the skills, not all have the tight-knit culture that reaps success.
Our men’s Royals do.
Coach Brad Hudson filled me in on his team-first ethic. It’s the glue that’s helped the Royals grow stronger since Hudson first headed up the team five years ago.
“Every coach says that they value hard working, trustworthy, dependable kids,” says Hudson. “With the kids we’ve been lucky enough to bring into the program, all those attributes are there, but there’s also a selflessness.”
This selflessness is evidently a winning trait. The Royals have snagged a birth in the provincials every season under Hudson, reversing a years-long dry spell. Last season, they came in a heartbreaking second at the college nationals.
Erich Meyer is a right side going into his fifth season. He’s watched the Royals, and himself, grow dramatically over the years. As an ex-high school star, he had a hard time learning to put his team first. But when he did, “that was when I started finding success on the court,” he says.
I asked Hudson if it’s hard bringing new players into such a tight-knit group every season. He says that his team’s trust in him “creates an understanding and patience with new players. They know these players coming in are committed to the team’s success as well.”
So how does Hudson get his team to gel? Not through team-building activities. “They bond through hard training and competition in the gym, doing their craft,” he says. “It’s a big part of who they are.”
And this team spirit isn’t confined to the court. It’s a lifestyle.
“We’re like a bunch of brothers, really,’” says Jordan Or, a libero going into his third year. “It’s important considering that we spend so much time day in and day out together. We’ll train on the court, we hang out in-between classes, and a lot of us have classes together.”
I’d think that such a close-knit culture might insulate athletes from the world around them. But for some, at least, the opposite is the case.
Meyer comes from a small town. He says he used to be close-minded about different cultures and ways of life. But his time on the team has taught him to see things differently.
“Everything is not all about you. In volleyball I started to realize that,” says Meyer. “Now in life I am much more open-minded to lots of different things out there.”
It seems that belonging to a family of athletes and being a top contender isn’t the only reward for playing with the Royals.
Now, with the season just under way, it’s probably hard not to think about that close call at the nationals. But whether or not they capture the championship this year, one thing is for sure: the Royals will win or lose together.