Cornerstone University Athletics Introduces Men's Volleyball Program
by Audrey Wierenga (B.A. ’18)
Beginning fall 2020, Cornerstone University will offer men's volleyball as an official varsity sport.
The decision was announced in November 2019 after being approved by Aaron Sagraves, Cornerstone University's athletic director. Sagraves said that he sees both a need and an interest for the sport in higher education.
The Need for Growth
"Men's volleyball is growing like crazy," Sagraves said. "Adding the sport was a no-brainer." Sagraves added that Cornerstone will be joining seven other schools in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC), including Aquinas College, also located in West Michigan.
To some, this decision may come as a surprise, as expressed by Jesse Campbell, strategic communications and marketing coordinator for Cornerstone athletics.
"The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) does not have men's volleyball as a school-sanctioned sport," Campbell said, "but a lot of Christian high schools, including local schools, already have men's volleyball."
Campbell also said they anticipate men's volleyball to become sanctioned by the MHSAA in the near future.
As far as resources are concerned, Campbell said that Cornerstone has everything it needs for a successful start to the program. "We have a court, and we have a net." However, the introduction of the program goes hand-in-hand with renovations to the Blue Gym inside the Bernice Hansen Athletic Center.
The gym will be renovated to include one hardwood court for practice along with two Mondoten courts. Mondoten is a rubber-like material that is often used for practice courts. The renovations will provide the men's volleyball team with a space to practice during the late winter months, when the basketball, track and field, baseball, softball and soccer teams are also practicing indoors.
What's Next for CU Athletics
The next step for Sagraves and other athletic staff is clear—find a coach. According to both Campbell and Sagraves, a coach will be hired in the next few weeks. Students on campus have already expressed interest in the team and some prospective students are also very serious about the program.
"The biggest challenge for our new coach will be to build the roster," Sagraves added. "We have about five to six students on campus who are interested, and we want about 15 on the team."
Men's volleyball will be the ninth men's sport to be added to varsity sports at Cornerstone, which is an added attraction for prospective students who played volleyball in high school as well as a way to enrich their time on campus.
"At Cornerstone, we're trying to add value to our university and to athletics," Sagraves said.
Another unique aspect of the new program is that Cornerstone is one of few Christian schools to introduce the sport. This is integral not only from an enrollment standpoint but also from an enrichment one.
"Adding this sport gives those kids who want to play the opportunity to continue their spiritual growth," Sagraves said. "Athletics at Cornerstone is not just about playing, but it's also about discipleship and connecting to God."
Interested in men's volleyball at Cornerstone? Visit our athletics recruitment webpage.