Men's volleyball clings to No. 1 rank
The Marauder men’s volleyball team is coming off of a very successful weekend, not just making progress now, but also paving progress for the future.
The Maroon and Grey have managed to sign top-recruit Andrew Richards, a left-side player out of London, Ont. on Jan. 10.
Richards, an OFSAA AAA gold and silver medalist, is also the recipient of the “Mr. Volleyball” award, which is given out to the top player in the Thames Valley region. Although his talent is clear, his overall character is what Preston believes makes him the perfect fit as a Marauder.
“I’m recruiting character, I’m not recruiting talent. And to assess character, you’ve got to spend some time doing that, you can’t do that in a tournament,” said Coach Dave Preston.
Preston took the time to assess Richards’ character over three years - paying attention to his performance and style since he was in tenth grade.
This three-year period was a good amount of time for Preston to assess not only the talent that Richards brings to the table, but also his drive and passion that make him a good fit for the Marauders program.
“There’s a lot of kids out there that could play this game, I want the ones that play for the right reasons,” said Preston.
And the Marauders are a team filled with these kinds of players that manage to have an incredible resume both on and off of the court.
Preston believes that McMaster University as a school attracts these kind of athletes, due to McMaster’s well-enjoyed student experience and the reputation of the school itself.
As for the recruit’s attraction to the team, their current 12-0 record and their overall success so far this season speaks volumes to the motivation and overall focus of the team.
“I think specifically to our team it’s the culture that we currently have, that is really, really attractive to elite athletes,” said Preston, “There is a workmen-like ethic of self-dedicated, self-disciplined, self-motivated kids…and other kids get attracted to that, and It’s an easy thing to say, it’s a relatively easy thing to understand, but it’s a difficult thing to live.”
There is no doubt that the life of the student-athlete is one that is marked by many responsibilities and challenges, and Preston believes that the recruits are fully prepared based on their character and drive to succeed.
“I think they understand that there is a set of clear expectations for them, and I think we do a pretty good job as a staff and as a program of defining exactly what we’re expecting out of them,” said Preston.
The recruits that have contributed to the Marauders line-up this year have made an impact early, despite the adjustments that first year brings.
Included in this line-up are Pawel Jedjewski, Brandon Koppers and Andrew Kocur, who have all made an impact alongside the senior players.
Jewdjewski has been extremely impressive so far in his first year, jumping into a starting role as libero and doing a stellar job at controlling the defense, while Koppers and Kocur have both provided tremendous support for the offense.
These recruits have adapted to the student experience, and have helped to establish the Marauders men’s volleyball team as a powerhouse team for years to come.
For the past six years, the team has been able to attract a herd of top recruits, and tremendous athletes and people that have risen to the top of their game and have been named some of the top athletes in the country.
This has continued to be a trend for the Marauders so far, and raises the question of whether or not this trend will persist, making McMaster the top team in the country and CIS gold contenders for many seasons to come.
When it comes to thinking about the future, however, Preston is not looking too far ahead.
“I’m in the forest, I can’t see through the trees. I really don’t know if that’s our reality or not. And I’ll let other people figure that out - what I want to do is make sure that I still attend to the things that are important to our success in terms of my plan, so I need to continue to identify the best student-athletes that fit at McMaster University.”
Preston has done a tremendous job at doing that, and the success of the Marauders so far is only one small chapter of the Marauders incredible story.