HEVOs: Breaking new ground
18th December 2017
Being part of a sports team gives a real sense of community. So the work Volleyball England’s Higher Education Volleyball Officers (HEVOs) do is invaluable in so many ways.
The HEVOs are university students who take up roles in which they put on recreational volleyball for fellow students. These sessions are separate from competitive university teams, with a focus on fun and meeting other people. With the programme running in 70 universities across England, the HEVOs are not just adding to students’ university experience, they’re growing the volleyball community too. Last academic year over 5,500 people took part in HEVO volleyball sessions.
This academic year has seen more universities than ever adopting the scheme and it is already achieving remarkable results. Reports on the first four months of this year's HEVO programme have revealed that so far 3,651 students have played Volleyball as part of the scheme, with hundreds of them playing the sport for the first time.
Kasean Coe is a student who is helping break new ground. He is the first ever HEVO at the University of Lincoln. His sessions have been really popular with 32 students coming along and over 25 of them attending most of the sessions.
As the students enjoy their Christmas break, we caught up with Kasean to reflect on how he has found taking the HEVO scheme to pastures new:
What’s your volleyball background and why did you decide to become a Higher Education Volleyball Officer?
KC: I’ve been playing volleyball for six years in London. A volleyball coach came to our school to show us how to play the sport. I was one of only three people who showed up. I played in London and when I went to university I wanted get into it again. I joined the university team and everyone was really lovely and supportive. There were only 15 male players and 12 female players though, so I realised the sport was not having a big impact at the university. So when someone from the student union contacted me about being a HEVO, I thought it was an amazing opportunity to help give the sport a bigger reach.
How have your first few months been?
KC: I thought about how to make every session engaging and switching it up so it was not the same every week. Anybody can come along and the focus is on fun - the university teams are there for the competitive side of the game.
Volleyball is a lot different to many other social teams, such as football or rugby, as many people have not even seen a volleyball before. Some ask basic questions like ‘why is the ball stripey?’, whereas other beginners will go away and research volleyball and all the positions. There is a varying level of ability so I keep the sessions engaging for everybody.
Even those players who have experience playing at a higher level appreciate going back to basics. So we play simple games and they enjoy running through the basics before they get back into more advanced stuff.
You attended the HEVO conference which trained all the students with the skills they needed for role. How has what you learned help you?
KC: The HEVO conference was one of the best volleyball weekends I have had. It was good to be able to pick the brains of other students, tutors and coaches. I have done the level one coaching award before but the tutors and coaches at the conference gave helpful advice on how to organise sessions; whether it was for small groups, large groups, or if everyone was a complete beginner.
You’ve had great attendance to your sessions, how have you marketed your sessions to students?
KC: I used Facebook to send out reminders twice a week and encouraged people to bring along anyone who is interested in playing. I also work well with the university volleyball team. They promote the sessions on their Facebook page which is already well-established. I still play for the university team and some of my team mates come down to the HEVO sessions to help out.
What are your plans for 2018 and the rest of the academic year?
KC: We’re hoping to have a glow in the dark UV tournament. So we’ll do a volleyball quiz for our members and when it gets darker, use both sides of the sports hall to have as many people as possible playing. We’re looking at this for the end of January or start of February time and then we’re also looking to introduce Sitting Volleyball too.
On the social side, we tried organising a few nights out but that sort of socialising isn’t for everyone in my group. So in the new year, we’re looking to go for meals out or going to watch a movie together.
What piece of advice would you give to a fellow HEVO, from what you’ve learned so far?
KC: It would be: to not be afraid to try things. Often, if you think too hard about something you will be unsure of doing it as you don’t think it will work perfectly. If you try something, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work perfectly as you will be able to adjust it the next time you do it.