The Happy Medium of Club Volleyball

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Members of the club volleyball team practice in Rush Gymnasium at Occidental College. Tuesday, Apr. 2, 2019. Audrey Rudolph/The Occidental

Hope Hendry (sophomore) and Audrey Todd (sophomore) have co-founded Occidental’s first club volleyball team. Both have experience playing volleyball on club teams and for their respective high schools. By starting the team, the two hoped to find a way to have the relaxed nature of an intramural team, but with the same level of commitment as a college varsity team.

“We wanted to make something that was more competitive. We wanted something that was in between varsity and intramural. Hope and I also wanted to get a chance to meet new people and build a better sense of community,” Todd said. “It is also just really great to have a different type of physical activity as an option that’s not at the varsity level.”

Hendry and Todd began planning for the club over the summer but continued to work on it over the course of the fall semester. After getting the club approved by Dean of Students Rob Flot and Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLICE), the two focused their efforts on recruiting members and getting gym time.

“The hardest part was trying to figure out the gym times, because we had to first figure out how to schedule our practices and gym time around the preexisting varsity sports at Occidental; and then also take a look at our team member’s schedules and match our practice time with their free time,” Hendry said. “We eventually figured it all out, but it was a lot of hard work.”

Todd felt similarly, despite the positive outcome of their hard work. She mainly spoke to the complicated process of creating a club at Occidental in the first place.

“We first went to Dean Flot about how to make the actual club team. It turned out to be a serious process,” Todd said. “To begin the process, we had to make a constitution with bylaws. Then we had to turn it into the Office of Student Life (OSL), they had to approve it and then technically we were [an] established club.”

The process of creating any club at Occidental, sports or otherwise, is a long and time-consuming process, according to Hendry and Todd.

“I’d recommend making an e-board as soon as possible, because for a while we were doing most of the work by ourselves, which was just too much work for two people to do,” Hendry said. “It was getting to the point where we were spending around 9–10 hours a week on getting the club going.”

Once Hendry and Todd were able to put together an e-board, things started to run more smoothly as work was divided among a group of dedicated student members. Alejandra Herrera (sophomore) is the external affairs officer, a jobthat entails sending emails to the team as well as other schools to plan scrimmages. Herrera also works with Facilities to schedule gym time. Lucy Smith (first year) works on fundraising and Sweda Rajaram (first year) is the social chair. Emily Schissler (first year) is also a part of the e-board as the assistant coach. She helps plan practices and thinks of new drills and warm-ups for the team.

Catlin Hedeman (sophomore) left, and Sweda Rajaram (first year) right, members of the club volleyball team, practice in Rush Gymnasium at Occidental College. Tuesday, April 2, 2019. Audrey Rudolph/The Occidental

Beyond basic logistics, Hendry also spoke to the importance of using resources, specifically in the athletics department, that already exist at Occidental.

“If your sport already exists at Occidental at the varsity level, I would strongly recommend talking to the coach of that sport about being an adviser to your club,” Hendry said. “The varsity volleyball coach is our adviser and she’s been really helpful. She’s given us some of their old jerseys, equipment and lets us know how things operate within the athletics department at Occidental.”

Heather Collins, the head coach of Occidental’s women’s volleyball team, has been instrumental in the early stages of Todd and Hendry’s club, according to the co-founders. Beyond the help Collins was able to give Hendry and Todd, they were also able to make connections through assistant volleyball coach Rich Huynh.

“Occidental’s assistant volleyball coach Huynh used to work for the club league and had been really knowledgeable and helpful with that,” Hendry said. “He connected us to the person who leads the whole league so we could join.”

Occidental’s club volleyball team is a part of the Southern California Collegiate Volleyball League (SCCVL), which operates much like the way the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) does for varsity sports.

“Our club volleyball league includes schools like the Claremont Colleges, USC B team, UCLA B team, LMU [Loyola Marymount University] and a few other schools,” Hendry said. “The league will arrange for us to play them about every other weekend and then there is a final tournament at the end of our season. There is also some travel around Southern California involved, which can be fun.”

Club volleyball’s season runs from January to March, but both founding members plan on keeping the team active and committed during their off-season.

“Hope and I want to make sure this team can be the best it can be,” Todd said. “We are planning on practicing throughout the year and not just during the league season.”

Both Todd and Hendry are excited for the future of the club team and encourage anyone interested to consider joining. The team of 10 will beginscrimmaging other schools next semester, and their inaugural season will be next spring.