Reinhardt’s men’s volleyball team laid the groundwork for its inaugural season last week with its initial signing class.
The 11-man class is split between six freshmen and five uperclassmen, and while coach C.J. Shearer said he knows his team will have some kinks to work out, he is excited about the potential in the group.
“We have a really good mix of young kids and some older kids,” he said. “We were able to get some transfers and some talented freshmen. Like any first-year team, we’ll have some things we need to work through, but talent-wise, we can do some special things this first year and this first cycle through.”
Finding those players was not always easy, though, as Shearer was forced to leave the state for most of his commitments.
Nicolas Castro is a freshman libero from Cherokee who played club for A5, and Adrian Pape is a sophomore who was already at Reinhardt after attending high school at River Ridge.
The team also features two players from Warner Robins and one from Buford. The rest of the roster is made up from places where men’s volleyball is more prevalent, with three players from Florida, two from Puerto Rico and one from Hawaii.
“The recruiting process is long,” Shearer said. “Luckily, I had a lot of connections in Florida, so we got some guys from there. We really tried to hit those small pockets in Georgia where it’s really pushed. They want to stay in Georgia and be part of a program that will have a winning tradition, so we tried to use that.”
The Eagles’ initial class will feature four players at 6-foot-4 or taller, but Shearer said he was looking for more than just physical attributes in potential recruits.
Instead, the most important attributes early on will be the intangibles and versatility that will help the program get off the ground.
“I look for kids who can do multiple things, whether it’s playing multiple positions or attacking from multiple areas,” Shearer said. “We want hitters who can attack and defend well. You look for a kid with good arms. You can’t really teach that stuff, so you look for the athleticism and IQ when you’re trying to build a team.”
Shearer does bring some experience to the team.
He has been an assistant on Reinhardt’s women’s team during its resurgence in the last two seasons under Brian Goodhind, after spending two more seasons under him on the women’s team and one season as the men’s head coach at Weber International.
“The differences are starting to become less apparent,” Shearer said. “In the women’s game, you can focus more on the back-row defense and use your block to funnel the ball back there. In the men’s game, You have to have your block dictate and score points for you. The digs are just so few in numbers. The speed of the ball is different, but the play itself isn’t too different.”
Shearer will worry about getting the style of his team’s play worked out closer to the season.
Until then, his first priority will be getting his new players to campus and begin instilling a culture he hopes will last long after his first group has moved on.
“We just want to get them on campus and set the foundation of what we really want to do,” Shearer said. “To me, this is a big year for culture. We need to make sure we’re taking care of business in the classroom and on the court. We need to set that standard of hard work in everything now.”