Although Columbia does not have a varsity team for men's volleyball, there is still an outlet for those interested in competitive play. The men's volleyball club provides its members the opportunity to compete against some of the best club teams in the country.
"We just strive to play in the most competitive environment we can at Columbia," club president Philip Tjimos said.
While Tjimos said that the semi-weekly, three-hour practices are not very intense, the team does need to practice at a level that is equivalent to other teams they will face when the season begins in January. The club volleyball team is in the New England Collegiate Volleyball League (NECVL) along with fifteen other schools, including Dartmouth, Yale, and Brown. When asked about how competitive this league is, Tjimos responded, "Some of the teams in this league are the best club teams in the nation. They're at a really high level, and we want to keep our practices at that level, as well."
Because of the high level of play, practices can be intimidating to those who have never played volleyball before. Tjimos has been playing for ten years, and many other members have been playing for just as long, if not longer.
"It is difficult to teach new players the skills they need to get them up to a certain level fast enough," Tjimos said.
This statement is certainly not meant to discourage new players from joining, however, as the team welcomes new members as long as they are dedicated, according to Tjimos.
"We do have some [new] players that are coming to every practice, and they are definitely learning as they go, and they are definitely getting better," Tjimos said. "You just have to be committed."
Competitive though it may be, the men's volleyball club is a lot about having fun, too. Practices are very open, and any member is allowed to make suggestions about what the team should focus on during that practice, even though Tjimos is technically the coach. Also, members are not required to compete. Of the 12-15 members, there is a group of about seven or eight players who always want to compete.
"Like most club sports, you get a few solid, really dedicated players, and then you get players who just want to practice whenever they have free time," Tjimos said.
Though the season begins in the spring, the team usually attends two or three tournaments in the fall, including the one scheduled for this Sunday at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island.
Once the season begins, usually in the last weekend of January, there are four weekends of conference play as well as one weekend against interconference competition. Columbia is in the southern conference of Division I along with Brown, University of Connecticut, Fairfield University, Providence College, University of Rhode Island, Roger Williams University, and Yale. Columbia will play each of these teams once before regionals begin. From there, ten teams in the sixteen-team division will advance to nationals.