Calling it an “emerging” sport, Athletic Director Fred Smith recently announced Siena Heights University is beginning a men’s club volleyball program.
Initial plans have the first matches being played in 2009, with the club schedule that will include institutions from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.
“Men’s volleyball presents Siena with a unique opportunity to add a sport we could first offer at the club level,” Smith said. “It is not a sponsored championship sport at the NAIA level yet, but it is considered one of the NAIA’s emerging sports. Starting men’s volleyball Siena Heights as a club sport will allow it to grow and build until the NAIA is ready to sponsor it.”
Current SHU women’s volleyball assistant coach and former Adrian College women’s volleyball coach Mike Watkins has been hired to coach the men’s club program. Watkins coached Adrian’s program from 1998-2005 before arriving at Siena last fall.
“We are fortunate to attract a very successful high school and college coach in Coach Watkins,” Smith said. “Eventually we are hoping to build a ‘volleyball’ atmosphere at Siena Heights that is similar to our highly successful basketball and soccer programs.”
Watkins said his first task recruiting anywhere from 8-12 student-athletes to be ready to compete by next February, when the club season begins.
“I think it’s going to be an opportunity to offer something to potential students that doesn’t currently exist in Michigan, at least not the way we are doing it,” Watkins said. “The club atmosphere is out there, but most are student run and have no plans of going intercollegiate. Here we have the coaching in place and the backing of the school.”
Siena Heights plans to join the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Conference, which includes club institutions from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Typically the season consists of 20-25 matches and runs through March. Though not many high schools in Michigan currently offer boys club volleyball, that number is growing, Smith said. However, Watkins said there are more than 60 schools in Ohio that offer club volleyball, and there are also significant numbers in Indiana.
“I think realistically we are going to look at Ohio and Indiana,” Watkins said of his recruiting area. “I know it is very popular in Canada, and we might be able to bring an international element to our program. I think that’s a good thing.”
For more information on men’s club volleyball or any other athletic program at Siena Heights, please call 517-264-7870.