December 16, 2022 | SPORTS | By Grace Ersfeld-OBrien | Illustration by Iris Guo

The process of building and officially establishing a club sports team is a long and arduous one; in order to attain consistent, significant funding, a team has to be functional for two years on its own. Liam Keilty ’25 has embraced that challenge, having started the men’s club volleyball team last year as a first year.

He started the club with the help of fellow student Mikenna Grotto ’25, whom he credits with providing the bulk of the technical knowledge on the ins and outs of the sport.

“Coming in, I didn’t really know anyone… but just having even eight-ish freshmen as a base group last year was so important in forming a community,” said Keilty. “Those people are still with me on this team, and we gained more freshmen this year, so we’re growing, though it’s mostly underclassmen that are involved.”

Keilty expressed his gratitude for the juniors from the women’s volleyball team who coach for the team intermittently: Jenny Jenks ’24 and Keeley Kandziora ’24.

“They know their stuff,” he said. “With them, we’ve had a lot of people come and practice more consistently.”

As the club gains more members and increases momentum, its focus has gradually shifted toward a more stable practice program, and it has integrated more tournaments into its schedule.

“I’m in contact with pretty much every school in Colorado that has a men’s club team––around thirteen or something like that––and they’re basically constantly organizing things,” said Kielty.

One such tournament will take place in Denver this Saturday, Dec. 17.

“It’s a community tournament, which will be a good experience for us, even if we are definitely going to get rocked,” he said.

Keilty noted that scheduling practices around intramural sports makes student commitment a bit spotty and, in tandem with the task of doing the bulk of the work in arranging competitions, his role as the leader of the club is time-consuming.

“I hate organizing things. It’s kind of tough motivating myself on top of all that to be fully committed and organize everything while balancing my life… [establishing the club] is a slow process,” he said.

In terms of team dynamic, Keilty says the team is full of friendly people who just want to learn and play. That said, he noted that some members are so highly experienced in the sport that they “seem almost reluctant to keep playing with us.”

With talent like that, he believes that if the club can keep those players involved, “we could get very good… at least good enough to have a kicker of a club team,” Keilty said. “It just comes down to commitment.”

Nathan Shields ’26, says that the team has “a great energy. Super laid back, super inclusive, and personally, I think it’s one of the most diverse places on campus.”

Shields sees diversity as something characteristic of volleyball for as long as he’s been in the sport. “Personally, I’ve always thought of volleyball, especially men’s volleyball, as random people thrown together; [we have] different backgrounds [and] interests, but somehow we all like volleyball.”

Shields is excited for the upcoming tournament, and notes that, being a community tournament, “it will be a totally random mix.” The inclusivity is one of the reasons Shields loves the sport.

Practices this block are on Mondays and Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Keilty encourages anyone interested in volleyball to come out. While the club is technically a men’s team, anyone is welcome and encouraged to join in.

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