With a ton of hype on campus surrounding the men’s volleyball team and their return to the OUA this year, they have plenty of new talent on the team. The roster was made up from incoming first year students that were recruited to play volleyball, and students that were already enrolled at Brock who had volleyball talent. One of those previously enrolled students was Brock Captain, Matthew Ragogna.
Ragogna grew up in Schomberg, Ontario, a little town with a population of less than 3000 in King County of the York Region. Ragogna played a few years of club volleyball in the Ontario Volleyball Association with the Aurora Storm. After graduating from Bradford District High School, Ragogna attended Brock, where he successfully completed his undergrad in Sport Management. In his third year at Brock, Ragogna actually helped coach the women’s volleyball team during an 80 hour placement in which he received academic credit. After completing his placement as student manager of the team, he went on to become a part time coach in his fourth year, and then moved up to a full-time assistant coach with the team last year.
With limited playing experience, Ragogna has gained a lot of his volleyball experience through coaching. Before getting his three years of experience with the Brock women’s team, he started as an assistant coach for the Niagara Rapids. After a year of that, Ragogna’s coaching career
spiralled forward, as he took on head coaching duties with multiple Niagara Rapids teams every year. A lot of the athletes he coached over the past few years have went on to play OUA Volleyball, including Brock’s first year setter Mitch Taylor, whom Ragogna coached for three years.
After finishing his undergrad, Ragogna was looking for Master’s programs across Canada to pursue. He looked at a program in New Brunswick, but also a program at Brock. With his coaching experience, Ragogna used his connections to try and push for the start of a men’s team. When he was deciding between the two programs, he found out that Brock would be getting their team back in 2016 which persuaded him to stay at Brock to do a Master’s in Physical Education where he studies youth sport and development. The opportunity to play was too hard to turn down.
“I knew [the men’s program] was coming and a part of me was like, ‘do I really want to keep coaching?’, and I said you know what, if I can have one year [to play], I can coach for the rest of my life.” said Ragogna.
After starting a club program at Brock in 2015, some of the current players were able to get their first experience of playing as a team in a Brock uniform. When the varsity team’s return was officially announced and Doug Hanes was announced as the head coach, Ragogna says that a group of the players were extremely motivated and began training for several hours a day in the gym. With a ton of practice throughout the summer, which included hours of beach volleyball, the team was finally set to begin their first OUA season in 16 years. Hanes immediately recognized Ragogna as the official team captain.
“Matt was an obvious choice for the official captain of our team. He [was] the most invested in volleyball at Brock having been an assistant with the women’s program,” Hanes said. “Unfortunately for him he had to wait six years before getting a chance to play his first OUA match at Brock so he has been very patient. He is very well organized and an obvious selection as captain.”
Ragogna is joined by fellow co-captains Damon Currie and Marcelo Correa. Ragogna’s experience on and off the court was a great addition to the men’s volleyball team. With a healthy balance of first year players and upper year students who will only be on the team for one year, the team is set up to transition into a competitive team in the OUA for years to come.