Players benched on the men’s volleyball team aren’t yelling, “Put me in, Coach!” from the sidelines. They are earning their spot on the court every day in practice.
“We evaluate each player in practice every day,” said head coach Chris McGown. “We have this 10-day revolving window where we look and see how good they were over the past 10 days. Whoever was best at their position is the one playing in the matches.”
For BYU men’s volleyball players, starting isn’t everything. Players emphasize the importance of practice because they find that the efforts they make in practice help the entire team improve, making every success a product of their hard work.
“The coaches really pound into our heads and help us understand that even if you’re not starting you’re playing a role,” said Price Jarman, currently redshirting for the team. “By going hard in practice we all help each other get better, and then whoever ends up starting is going to play a better game because of it. So the win is for everyone even if we don’t play in the match.”
Many players on the team don’t get as much time as some of the others, but that doesn’t keep them from giving their all.
“Almost every day I’ll come in here early with Jaylen (Reyes) and we’ll get some reps in and work on things that pertain to our positions,” said Hamilton Day, a sophomore setter. “I’m just hoping that by getting consistent reps in those areas I’ll be able to show new skills during practice and hopefully earn some time that way.”
Players understand their roles as team members and work as hard as they can, knowing that one day it will pay off.
“We all have our different roles on the team,” Day said. “In my mind, as long as you’re bringing it 100 percent at practices and doing what’s expected of you, then you’ll get your time. I think it’s a cycle that everyone goes through: getting better, working on their skills and then reaping the benefits of that later on.”
Players come to compete every day in practice. This high-level standard has helped the BYU players become a successful team.
“I’m doing my best right now so that next year I don’t have to spend any time on the bench. That’s the goal,” Jarman said. “That’s everybody’s goal. Everyone just plays as hard as they can so they can change that. No one wants to sit on the bench. That competitiveness among us is what makes our team good. If it wasn’t like that, we wouldn’t try hard in practice, and we would lose our games.”
Coaches find that working as a team is what’s most important for success.
“Probably the single most critical thing we do is sell the idea of winning as a team,” McGown said. “This championship doesn’t belong to the guys out on the floor; it belongs to the entire gym.”
Coaches aren’t just looking for good players. They value the work ethic of players who give their all in practice and search for good team members who are always working for the success of the team before thinking about their own success.
“Their efforts in practice matter deeply, and we’re doing this as a team; we’re not doing this as individuals. Those are our two focuses,” McGown said. “Those are hard values to get guys to buy into, but that’s the process of our culture. Teaching that and understanding that, and getting each player to believe it and want it. Those are the guys you’re looking for in a program, the kind that want the team’s success before their success and who embody that idea and live it.”
Players without a starting position find that their love for volleyball is enough to keep them passionate about the game.
“I’m blessed because I love the game of volleyball,” Day said. “Just playing volleyball makes me happy. While having a starting position is something I would love to have, just being in here and playing will raise my spirits and keep my flow going.”