Six states. Three countries. One team. This year’s men’s volleyball team has a very diverse roster that includes players from all over the map. In the United States, players reign from six states including Illinois, Nevada, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin and California. Outside the U.S., the team is also composed of players from Mexico and Canada. Another team member from Puerto Rico completes the roster. While this diversity is interesting, it’s not just a fun fact. This assortment of backgrounds has helped the team in many ways.
Men’s volleyball captains Paul Kraus and Jeff Budz agree that having teammates from so many places bring a distinctive dynamic to their team. Having different backgrounds gives the guys things to share, becoming much closer as a result.
“It’s fun to get to know the guys from different places. Alfredo (Lopez) has only been here for about a month now, and I think we are bonding really well and all becoming good friends,” said Budz.
In addition to the good times the Duhawks have had, this bonding has also been a valuable learning experience. Each person on the team brings their own identity and culture that they can then teach to the others.
“I think it’s cool that we have people from three different countries because we get to learn a little bit more about their cultures. I won’t ever be able to study abroad, so it’s like they bring studying abroad to the team,” Kraus said.
The players are not the only ones who have taken notice of their team’s makeup. Head Coach Jeremy Thornburg recognizes the variety of his roster and believes it benefits the team most in terms of bonding, but he hopes to see more in the future.
“I think it (the team’s diversity) brings us together and brings a unique look to our team. I really like diversity and preach it, and I think it helps bind the team off the court and bring together the chemistry you’re looking for. Now, if we make that chemistry we have off the court come onto the court, I think we’ll start winning some matches,” he said.
Last week, despite the back-and-forth battle, Loras fell in three matches to MSOE. Each set was close, however, as the team showed they have the skills needed to be a tough competitor.
With the loss, the Duhawks are 6-8 this season with a 1-4 record in conference, but there are still plenty of games left to play. Loras’ next five games are at home at the Athletic and Wellness Center, so the team will look to make their chemistry click on their home court and secure some victories.
Up first the Duhawks will face Marian and Lakeland, both conference opponents. Loras has yet to matchup with Marian as they only joined the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League this season. The Duhawks have competed against Lakeland several times, however, but they have yet to secure a victory against the Muskies. This weekend will be huge for the men’s volleyball team as they look to improve their conference record.
The Duhawks have proven they have the volleyball skills and knowledge needed to be successful. In the coming weeks it will be imperative for the team to transfer their off-the-court chemistry on the court in an effort to make things click. Loras has an advantage with their dynamic makeup courtesy of the team’s diversity, and it will be interesting to see how that plays a part in the remainder of the season.