Volleyball club created by students nominated for award
14th November 2017
There are hundreds of volleyball clubs all over the country. No matter what level you’re playing at, every club needs people to stand up to help run things so that all its members can enjoy the sport. That’s exactly what the inspirational students from Bexhill College did.
At the start of the last academic year in September 2016 when the students arrived at the college in Sussex, volleyball was not part of the curriculum and there were no teams. A group of female students set about changing that.
A year later, Bexhill College Women’s Volleyball Club has been nominated for Team of the Year at the prestigious Sussex Sports Awards, which is hosted this Friday. The club has been on a remarkable journey which has seen historic achievements on the court and seen volleyball become an important part of what the college offers.
“Last September, I was approached by two international students, who had experience in the game, about starting a volleyball club,” says college sports leader, Adam Hurley, as he takes up the story. “Our sports hall is in high demand so to make sure it was worthwhile, I said to them if they could get 15 names of people who were interested, I would help them start the volleyball club. They got over 20 names.
“They started with one session a week which was 5.30pm until 6.30pm. The students finished college at 4.30pm so it meant they had to wait around after college before they could play. The students were happy to get it going though, and I helped set up the courts and numbers continued to grow every week so more sessions were put on. The two girls did all the coaching and most of the players had not even tried the sport before.
“More sessions were introduced and an advanced group was created for girls who wanted to play matches and a fun group continued so that anyone could come along and give volleyball a go.”
Adam organised some friendly matches and Bexhill College sporting history was created when Bexhill Women’s Volleyball Club entered the South East England Championships, held in Hampshire, for the very first time. Here they played the best sides from across Kent, Sussex and Hampshire.
While Adam was responsible for organising things off the court, the girls took the lead for all the volleyball playing matters.
“The girls picked the players and put on additional sessions in the mornings before college to help the players improve,” says Adam. “A male student took on a coaching role with the team and they worked on their tactics as a team.”
Incredibly, this newly-formed team went the whole tournament unbeaten and were crowned the champions of South East England! This meant the team qualified for National Championships where they travelled to Nottingham University for a long weekend of competition. They played against London, Wales, South West England, and other regions from across the UK. The team finished fifth in the whole of the UK.
The college were immensely proud of what Bexhill Women’s Volleyball Club has achieved. From two students wanting to set up a team and needing to prove there was enough interest in the sport, every member of the club had driven the team on to be one of the best college volleyball teams in the country. Last year’s students didn’t just achieve glory on the court but they’ve left a lasting legacy.
This academic year, Bexhill College has added a men’s volleyball team to the women’s team and offering volleyball has become a part of drawing in new students.
“We recently had an open evening and many of the prospective students were asking about volleyball opportunities,” says Adam. “We’re an academy and we’re hoping to recruit more students who want to play to bolster numbers. Hopefully, it also means we can attract international students with experience in volleyball.”
While last year’s students have completed their studies at Bexhill, the legacy is in safe hands with Adam, who is also keen to help the sport progress.
“I went to Oxford and took the Level One Coaching Course,” he says. “I didn’t have any volleyball experience and used to join in to learn more about the sport. The new group of students we have this year includes some international students who have played at a high level and I learn from them and they give me ideas. I can coach sessions they devise or put on training drills myself.”
“We will be entering men and women’s team into the South East championships this year. It will be alien to us how good the standard will be but we will do our best.”
In recognition of what the students did last year, Adam nominated Bexhill Women’s Volleyball Club for the Team of the Year Award at the Sussex Sports Awards. The main reason the nomination was for the fact a group of 16-year-old students created and promoted a volleyball club for all abilities.
The awards evening is this Friday, 17 November. Check out the Volleyball England social media to see if Bexhill Women Volleyball Club are awarded the Team of the Year from the shortlist of three.
Whatever the result, what the team achieved goes far beyond winning an award. The adapted quote of “If you build it, they will come” might have been from a film about baseball, but in the case of Bexhill students it could quite easily apply to volleyball, as Adam best sums up:
“Without them there simply wouldn’t be volleyball at the college.”