“There’s really very little men’s volleyball in the area here.”
There are just two collegiate men’s volleyball programs in West Virginia: The University of Charleston and Alderson Broaddus. There is also no boy’s volleyball in high school, and the numbers in Southwest Virginia aren’t much better.
But, Bluefield College men’s volleyball coach, Ray Vance, is trying to change all of that.
“Eventually our goal in five or six years is to try and see if we can get boys high school started in the state,” he said.
Vance started playing volleyball when he was 14 years old. After playing in college for SUNY New Paltz, he picked up coaching and has been doing so for more than 25 years. But in the last few years, he’s taken on a new title — Motor M-V-B Grow the Game advocate for West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.
“One of the things we teach here is that it’s about more than just a sport,” Vance said. “It’s about the relationships you build and the lessons that you’ve learned … It’s the sport of a lifetime.”
Vance may have the title of advocate, but he also has a number of players from around the world that are eager to promote their sport and all it has to offer the Two Virginias.
“It’s kind of sad that volleyball is not as big as in Brazil because we see here that there’s a lot of potential,” junior Alberto Chiaparini remarked.
“I want to just show everyone somewhere else that didn’t really know volleyball … a team, and how it’s supposed to be played at the men’s level,” senior Chaz Franqui added.
They all hope through visits, demonstrations and clinics that they can bring young men around to the idea of playing the sport of volleyball, while also providing them a chance for athletics and academics at a higher level.
“There are so many opportunities,” Vance said. “I think there are over 200-plus college programs now and every one of them is out every weekend is looking for players to come in and play.”