For the past few months, Eastern has been a hub of growth and change. From building renovations, to advancements in technology, there is no question about it: Eastern is stepping up their game. However, they are not just stepping up their game in those departments, but on the volleyball court as well. In the 2018-2019 academic year, Eastern will proudly introduce a new Men’s volleyball team to their athletic department.
The recently announced men’s volleyball team will be Eastern’s 21st intercollegiate sport. The men’s team will begin the recruiting process this year in preparation for the 2019 season. The NCAA added Division III men’s volleyball as a tournament sport in 2012, and since then has seen tremendous growth in the division nationwide. It only makes sense that Eastern joins in on this trend to not only contribute to the nationwide growth, but to have this be a door that opens up more opportunity on campus.
“This will provide opportunities for competition, and enhance the student-athlete experience. It also gives our department a chance to further contribute to the growth of the university. I am confident that we will be able to find quality student-athletes who align with our core mission and values and who will represent the university well,” Heidi Birtwistle, Eastern’s Interim Director of Athletics said.
Eastern men’s volleyball will be a member of the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC). Three other institutions are also adding the sport, and with Eastern included, the MAC Champion will qualify to automatically participate in the NCAA. The men’s team will have a tough act to follow since the women’s team has been a dominating force in their own division. The women’s team has played in 19 Conference Championships in the last 20 years, accumulated 34 All-America honors, and has been ranked in the AVCA National Top 25 for every season since 2008.
“The MAC is delighted that Eastern is adding men’s volleyball,” Ken Andrews, the Executive Director of the MAC, said, “They [Eastern] have a great tradition in women’s volleyball that will likely be followed by the men! The MAC will have at least eight sport sponsors in the 2018-19 season.”
Bettie Ann Brigham, the Vice Provost, has overseen the strategic prosperity of the department. There have been 6 additions to the department in the past decade, including women’s golf, added in 2012. Since its addition, the golf team has played in three MAC Championships, and this trend of success and growth can also be seen in the Eastern track and field teams which have doubled in size in between seasons.
“Our men’s team will have a hard act to follow (relative to the success of our women’s team),” Brigham admitted, “but we are delighted to now have that challenge before us.”
Sources: Goeasterneagles.com, gomacsports.com