At Grinnell, when the students can’t find an outlet for their interest, they create it. A prime example of this would be the recently formed intramural Volleyball Club.
Kevin Charette ’15 and former student Jakob Gnirke founded the club this September. Charette wanted to play a sport at Grinnell but was not too keen on the huge time commitment that comes with playing on a varsity team. He tried to satisfy this by playing on the ultimate frisbee team, but his interest eventually turned to volleyball.
“Over time, I just wanted to play volleyball more,” Charette said. “I had played all four years in high school, and I wasn’t getting my fix for it [at Grinnell].”
Though relatively new, the Volleyball Club already has around eight core members who regularly attend practice. There have been times when attendance can even get up to twelve members. But the leniency of the club allows members to skip practice when they have other obligations.
In addition to a mutual interest in volleyball, it is this leniency that has attracted many of the current members.
For club regular Madeline Warnick ’16, the amount of travel time involved with playing on the women’s varsity volleyball team was too much of a commitment.
“I was just about to tell coaches I would play, but looked at the schedule and they were traveling almost every weekend,” Warnick said.
Other members simply prefer the feel of playing on an intramural team. Parker Van Nostrand ’15, another regular, has played several club sports, including indoor and pickup soccer. He has found that intramural sports remove a lot of the stress and pressure that can come with varsity-level sports. And without this, the focus can just be on having a good time while still improving skill.
“Even in just the few weeks that the club’s been going, I’ve seen a lot of improvement,” Van Nostrand said.
Charette credits the improvement to collective teamwork.
“Like the other club sports, it’s mostly trained by each other. It’s a very cooperative setting. We suggest ideas to each other. We can all learn from each other,” he said.
The club hopes to improve, potentially with the help of the women’s volleyball team, and has been in talks with Coach Hutchinson about playing with the team since their season recently ended.
“I’ve talked to Coach Hutchinson about using the club as a way for the players to keep playing volleyball. That way they’ll also be helping us, because they have a lot of expertise that we don’t have,” Charette said.
In addition to this, the club is hoping to make the transition to become a club sport, rather than just a student group. In order to do this, it will need to garner enough interest and have consistent attendance. When this can be achieved, the club will be able to receive official funding from the school and even host or travel to other schools for games.
However, if this happens, the club may need to kick out one of its regular attendees.
“There’s this guy from the town, I think he might be in his late 60’s or early 70’s, and he comes to the practices,” Warnick said. “And he’s actually a lot better than some of us. He’s an interesting guy.”
The club is currently co-ed. However, if membership continues to increase, it may split into a men and women’s team, much like the other intramural sports. Van Nostrand has found that there are many benefits of playing on a co-ed team, though.
“It shows all different skill sets. The girls may not be able to jump as high, but some of the best setters are women,” he said.
In addition to being open to both genders, the club also welcomes players of any skill level. Some have been playing for several years and others have never played before.
The members have found that the club is a good way to play a sport on a more organized level, but with less pressure. It has also been a good way to simply take a break from the stress of school and have a good time.
For anyone interested in joining, Volleyball Club meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 to 10 p.m. in the Auxiliary Gym in the Bear Recreation and Athletic Center.