DENVER, Colo. (April 19, 2019) – Just because Huntsville, Texas, is not a hotbed of men’s volleyball now, doesn’t mean it can’t be someday.
Not if Julius Vickerie has anything to say about it.
For Vickerie, the road to men’s volleyball greatness has begun at the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF) Championships this week at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
Vickerie is the founder of the men’s volleyball club at Sam Houston State University. The club is competing at the NCVF Championships for the first time this year.
“This is actually the first of everything for us,” Vickerie said. “Our first time going to bracket play. Our first time winning more than one set. Our first time ever traveling out of state as a team.
“Honestly, I’m loving every minute of it.”
Vickerie started the club at Sam Houston last semester. It could afford to compete in Denver thanks in part to a $3,000 Diversity and Inclusion Grant from USA Volleyball, which helps run the NCVF Championships.
Vickerie applied for the grant because he wanted to offer the players on the team new experiences without asking for a big hike in dues.
“To increase participation, I knew I had to find funding and find new venues and new places we had never been before and things we had never seen,” Vickerie said.
Vickerie’s love for the sport and the club runs so deep that he changed his major from athletic training to sports management with a minor in marketing so he would have more time.
Sam Houston is 0-5 at the tournament with one match left to play on Saturday against the University of Denver.
Vickerie, who is a sophomore, sees greater things for the team down the road.
“I really want our club to become one of those names that people remember,” he said. “I want this to be our regular; something that we do every single year and people know who we are… I want us to be in the mix, for the long run. Not just while I’m there.”
He would also like to see more young people like him and his teammates, many of whom are minorities, on the volleyball court.
“In order to increase the diversity of the sport, you need to have it in areas where the majority are people of color,” he said. “Just teaching them the basics and how to play and showing them events.
“For me, the reason I even touched a volleyball was I went to a University of Texas game… Just seeing how intense it was and how the crowd was so involved. It got my blood boiling and I wanted to be a part of that.”
If anyone can bring the volleyball spirit of Austin to Huntsville, it is probably Vickerie.