During the 2010 fall semester, two students, senior Cheri Stuart and sophomore Lauren Kluth, teamed up and formed what became John Carroll’s first women’s club volleyball team in its 125-year history.
Kluth, who is the team president, brought on junior Cory Gotowka and seniors Chris Bej and William McDonnell to serve as coaches of the squad. All three are members of John Carroll’s men’s club volleyball team.
The coaches held try-outs just before Christmas break in order to really get things started.
“We had about 55 girls who expressed interest in participating in club volleyball. We tried out about 28 girls, kept 22, and now we have about 16 dedicated members on the team,” said Gotowka.
“These three guys have been a great asset to the program. Their dedication to attend each practice has a huge impact on the girls,” said Stuart. “They’ve helped greatly in laying the foundation of the program and building on the strengths of the team. The coaches’ style of leadership is coach first, friend later. They like to joke and have fun with us, but every girl respects the coaches and are grateful that they are there.”
However, the coaches are not the only leaders on this newly formed team.
When Stuart was asked about star players or stand-out athletes, she said, “I can’t specifically pick on a specific player to be a standout because we all bring something different to the team. Every player has their own strengths and weaknesses that we continue to improve on.”
The hard work of each team member and coach has really paid off, as the team won their very first game ever against Case Western Reserve University a few weeks ago.
The team also traveled to Ohio State University this past weekend where they played club teams from Kent State, Pitt and two teams from OSU as well.
Although the team could not put together a win in those four games, it was worth the while.
“They gained experience, court time together and we had a lot of fun,” said coach Gotowka. “We have the skill level to compete.”
“The OSU tournament was a great learning experience and we were able to take away knowledge of how to approach larger tournaments and more experienced teams,” said Stuart.
This May, the team will lose senior players Stuart, Alexi Cash, Lindsay Ashba and Karen Grabiec to graduation, but the year is not over, yet.
Gotowka has already shifted his thinking towards the scrimmage games that they will play against John Carroll’s women’s varsity volleyball team.
“We really play like a team, we grew so much from the beginning and we had a lot of fun doing it,” said Gotowka.
Stuart added, “Going into my senior year, I was truly grateful to be able to start up a club team, shake the dust off my shoes, and have my last chance to step on the volleyball court in a competitive nature. I love the team and all the effort that everyone has put in to it to make it a success.”