The Bruins volleyball program is continuing to build itself from the ground up.
Coach Vickie Denny has started a volleyball club team. This team is the next step in developing the Bruins intercollegiate volleyball team.
After tryouts in February, 14 players were picked for the club team ranging from freshmen to seniors.
These players will be eligible to be picked for the intercollegiate Bruins team in the fall.
Elisabeth Ennis, who assists Denny, played for Denny at Clearwater Christian College her junior and senior year.
She said many eyes watching and getting others’ opinions helped in the selection process.
Mark Cannon and Deon Vidal are volunteer assistants, but Denny said her number one assistant is her husband, Lou Denny.
“My husband is always by my side,” Denny said.
Denny works with the passers, while Ennis works with the setters, and Canon works with the hitters.
Vidal, who played for the Dominican Republic men’s national volleyball team, works with the defensive players.
The team has practices twice a week and workouts three times a week.
Denny starts a typical practice with a time of prayer and devotion and ends with game situations and controlled scrimmages.
Often, Denny will have the team play against Ennis, Canon and Vidal. The scrimmages are fast-paced with high intensity.
“We are trying to devise a culture that brings intense energy,” Denny said.
Denny plans for the team to play Toccoa Falls College of Toccoa, Georgia, and Johnson & Wales University of Charlotte, North Carolina.
At the end of the spring, Denny will evaluate the club team’s players and pick which ones will be playing for the Bruins in the fall. She is still recruiting more players.
Last semester the focus was on recruiting away from campus, but they are trying to get people to come to campus this semester.
Denny has four requirements for future players. First, they must know that God wants them at BJU.
Second, they must be good students for eligibility reasons.
Third, “They need to have a high level of volleyball I.Q. and experience on the court,” Denny said.
Finally, the players must want to play at the next level.
Denny summed it up simply:
“Love God. Love school. Love volleyball.”
The Bruins signed their first Bruin volleyball player, Erin Jarvis, earlier this month.
“She captures what I want in a student athlete,” Denny said. “[She is] a great all-around player.”
“For me it’s been really nice to work with Coach (Denny), to see her build this team from nothing,” Ennis said.
Denny’s passion for volleyball shows in her coaching. Ennis said Denny’s passion is contagious and positively affects the team.
Volleyball is not Denny’s most important passion, however. Denny views volleyball as a form of worship.
Denny’s coaching philosophy is described in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”
Ennis said she is most excited to learn from Denny and to see how God brings everything together.