3rd-generation Cougar athlete jumps into BYU men’s volleyball

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The Hutchins family name is already known in BYU athletics, but not because of junior transfer to the men’s volleyball team Ty Hutchins.

Ty’s grandfather, Melvin Hutchins, played on the BYU men’s basketball team from 1946 to 1951 before his seven years in the NBA. BYU retired his number 14 jersey in 1976. Ty’s dad, Mark Hutchins, ran track for BYU.

Now the third-generation Cougar, Hutchins, is ready to take his turn.

Ty Hutchins, however, is still probably more recognizable as a Pirate than a Cougar. He dominated volleyball at Orange Coast junior college in Costa Mesa, California. He was named Orange Coast College’s Male Athlete of the Year and the Pacific Coast Conference’s Most Valuable Player in 2014. In his sophomore 2013–2014 season, he finished with a 0.365 hitting percentage and was responsible for 27 percent of the team’s kills. Stats like these deserved a chance to compete at a higher level, something BYU’s coaches were eager to provide.

“We had watched him play a little bit in high school, and we just felt like we didn’t have space for him at the time,” BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “But he was able to go to OCC and develop. His coaches there said to us, ‘He’s lighting it up for us in our conference … you guys might want to take another look.’ We did and were fortunate to have room at that time, and everything fell into place.”

Making this transition to a Division I NCAA sport brought a new set of challenges for the junior college superstar.

“It’s faster,” Ty Hutchins said. “That was the first thing I noticed. Everything just moves faster and harder, but it’s still volleyball.”

He isn’t a n newcomer to the sport. His mother and brothers played volleyball, taught him the basics and ensured he was exposed to the game even as a toddler. His older brother Brock played for the University of Hawaii before continuing professionally in Europe. Ty Hutchins admits his brothers helped him get his start early on, but he doesn’t see himself in their shadow. “I’ll give credit where it’s due, but I’m still taller, and I jump higher than they do,” he said.

He said he never felt pressured to play a specific sport or to pursue an athletic career despite the talented family that surrounds him. His family has always supported him and all of his pursuits. The only pressure to succeed comes from himself, but it doesn’t stop Ty Hutchins from loosening up and having fun on the court.

“He came in and started cracking jokes right away,” teammate Brenden Sander said.

Sander knew his new teammate before both came to BYU this season, because Ty Hutchins would occasionally practice with Sander’s club team during off time from OCC. Ty Hutchins worked as much as possible to improve and prepare to compete for the Cougars.

Ty Hutchins said no matter where he goes or what team he plays for, it’s still the same game. However, there’s at least one more similarity between his time with OCC and BYU. He explained that during his last season at OCC, his team went 20-1. He feels somewhat responsible for that loss, because he left his uniform at home and couldn’t play in the match. When the Cougars played at Stanford this season, he noticed his practice shorts were still in Provo. BYU lost to Loyola University Chicago that night too, the Cougars’ first of only two losses of 2015. This could just be a coincidence, but the men’s volleyball team might be safer if Ty double checked his suitcase before traveling.

Ty Hutchins could have a future in volleyball and would enjoy a stint playing in Europe like his brother, but his goals stretch farther than that. He’s currently studying exercise science and plans to go to medical school after graduation. For now, he says he wants to focus on volleyball, classes and creating his own mark at BYU.

“I’d love to leave a legacy, just like my grandfather did,” he said.

In honor of his grandfather, Ty Hutchins wears legendary number 14 on his jersey too. As long as he remembers to pack it, this idea doesn’t seem farfetched.

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