The walk-on is a rare breed of student-athlete. Not necessarily highly recruited, the walk-on can surprise coaches and tremendously exceed expectations. Case in point: Scottie Pippen, Dennis Pitta and Ezekiel Ansah, to name a few. Essentially, the walk-on brings a different attitude to the team that helps him or her succeed.
Men’s volleyball head coach Shawn Olmstead said the walk-on “brings a chip on his shoulder and has a strong work ethic because he has to fight for a spot.”
Senior volleyball setter and former walk-on Robbie Sutton said, “I was given an opportunity as a walk-on because of the desire I had to do what it took and to accept any role.”
Being a walk-on can, at times, be a very grueling process. Sutton explained that the walk-on needs tenacity because without a scholarship, he or she will be closely examined constantly.
“Every opportunity and every second on the court you have to prove yourself,” Sutton said.
However, the bright side for Sutton and other walk-ons is that once they prove themselves, they will have a chance to contribute to the roster.
“Roster spots are limited, but everyone has a chance,” said Sutton. “If you have a skill to bring or you can be that extra guy to improve the team, the coaches will always find a spot for someone who can compete.”
Amidst the uncertainties of being the walk-on, two things are sure. First, the walk-on must find a balance between having fun and being serious.
“As a member of this team, we have the potential to play for a national championship every year,” said Sutton. “Volleyball is fun, but it takes serious work to win a national championship.”
Second, the walk-on will need to bring his “A” game to tryouts. “We’re going to work hard and play volleyball — we’ll serve, pass and perform all skills,” said Olmstead.
The walk-on is truly fascinating, especially when looking at the progression from being the walk-on to becoming a scholarship holder. As Olmsted said, anyone is welcome to try their hand at following the “great tradition of walk-ons” at BYU.
Walk-on tryouts for the BYU men’s volleyball team are Wednesday at 3:15 p.m. in room 134 of the Richards Building. Students interested in trying out for the BYU men’s volleyball team will need to email Fayrine at for more information.