For the first time since the 2000-2001 season, Brock will have a varsity men’s volleyball team. It was announced back in November 2015 that the team would return for the 2016-2017 season. The preparation for this season began the day the announcement was made, as Doug Hanes was hired as head coach.
Hanes brings plenty of experience both as a coach and a player. As a player, he won an OUA Championship with the Guelph Gryphons, and has also earned two OFSAA Championships at the high school level as a coach. After recruiting enough talent from the current enrolled students at Brock last year, Hanes was able to create a club team that competed against other schools.
The team has got off to a very promising start so far as a varsity program, going 4-3 in their preseason schedule. The OUA schedule is 17 games long, and the Badgers will be competing in the OUA West division. Also in their division is McMaster, Guelph, Western, Waterloo and Windsor. The East division also has a new team, as Trent University was also given the green light to have a varsity team this year.
The captain of the team, who has already been a Brock student for several years, is Matthew Ragogna. Ragogna has tons of playing experience, and has also stayed very much involved in the game before joining the team. He served as an assistant head coach for the women’s volleyball team for the past three seasons.
Ragogna is thrilled that Brock has been given the chance to have a varsity team again. He is extremely happy with the atmosphere on campus surrounding athletics right now.
“With the promotional recognition Brock has received country wide, the environment around Brock has never been better. Having such great support from the school, other varsity teams, as well as the local community has made the beginning of our [return] season a blast,” the Brock captain explained.
Ragogna has also done a lot of coaching outside of Brock. He says that he is excited that some of the local kids he has coached will have the opportunity to watch their coach play this year. He says that himself, and everyone else on the team, are extremely proud to be able to play volleyball with Brock written across their jersey.
Since it’s the first time the program has been around in 16 years, and with no previous OUA Championships, there is a lot of question marks around what to expect from the team. Ragogna is confident that the team will fit in with the other
12 OUA teams.
“People can expect a competitive, hard working, gritty team. We had great athletes around Brock prior to the creation of the men’s team and we look forward to showing that we can compete in the OUA. And that’s our goal,” Ragogna said. “We have an exceptional group of guys that have put in hard work over the summer and with our previous club team; as well as the rookies that have been recruited by our coach. We truly believe that we are a playoff team and hope to show that we can compete with the top teams in the OUA. We intend to surprise some teams and make a push to compete every single time we step onto the court.”
There’s no question that this season will be a memorable one. If Brock can get their newly refurbished program off to a successful start this year, they should be able to attract top talent from the high school level. Only time will tell how good this team truly is, and it is up to them to prove themselves.
The men will begin their 17 game schedule with a match against the other rookie team, the Trent Excalibur. The game is set for November 11 at 8:00 p.m. in Peterborough. The men will follow that road game with another away game, as they’ll travel to Hamilton on Nov. 18 to play the defending OUA champion McMaster Marauders. The much awaited return to Bob Davis Gymnasium for the Badgers will be on Nov. 25, when they host the Guelph Gryphons for a 8:00 p.m. game.