By Grant DeVivo and Alex Rojas
It has been a historic start to the semester so far for Stevenson Athletics, and one of its primary sources of attraction has been the newly formed men’s beach volleyball team.
Stevenson became the first NCAA Division III men’s volleyball program when it announced the formation of the team in July 2022. They join alongside their sister squad in women’s beach volleyball, which was introduced in 2016. The excitement around men’s beach volleyball was electric long before the season even started.
“I kind of expected [men’s beach volleyball] coming, but just to hear that final official news [about men’s beach volleyball] was just ecstatic,” said men’s beach volleyball sophomore Tim Flanagan, a member of the Mustangs’ No. 1 pair along with second-year Ryan Thenell.
As the season began to take flight, it began to hit players like third-year Aidan O’Brien, a member of the No. 2 pair, the honor they had of being a part of such a historical team at Stevenson. They are not afraid to show that honor either.
“I think it is huge that they are starting NCAA [men’s beach volleyball] programs, and it is awesome that we are the first one,” O’Brien said.
Players said that not much was expected of men’s beach volleyball this season. Yet they have burst onto the scene making more noise than anyone expected, and their confidence in the future of men’s beach volleyball grows as each day passes
“We are playing every single week, and we are traveling a lot,” O’Brien said. “We are going all over the place playing whoever we can, getting all the experience we can so we can build and have a good future for this program.”
Flanagan said it feels as if the team has been around for years.
“We were set up for success,” Flanagan said. “We have two really good co-head coaches and an assistant coach. They really know what they are talking about; they have all had lots of experience. We have really good players on the indoor side, so [the indoor players] converting to beach was bound to happen.
“Success was almost guaranteed for us,” Flanagan concluded.
Success they sought, and success they received. A tremendous inaugural day on Sept. 3 included beating the University of Delaware and Towson University with scores of 4-1 and 5-0 respectively. Now, the squad is looking to carry its momentum into this weekend’s West Coast trip to Irvine, California. They will look to bring the same level of play to Irvine Valley College on Sept. 16-18.
Flanagan wants his team to remember the honor they have of being the first men’s beach volleyball team in the NCAA Division III and use it to motivate them heading into Irvine this weekend.
“We’re the underdogs, the first ever to [play men’s beach volleyball in the NCAA],” Flanagan said. “Nobody really expects anything, and we are exceeding expectations. We just got to keep pushing, keep working like we are.”
Stevenson men’s beach volleyball may be miles away this weekend, but many other Stevenson sports are still right around the corner. Here is what else is going on in the world of Stevenson Athletics this weekend!
Mac Individual Championships in Annville, PA
Men’s cross country:
D2/D3 challenge in Kutztown, PA
Woman’s cross country:
D2/D3 Challenge in Kutztown, PA
-Stevenson at Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA
-Stevenson vs. Lynchburg in Fredericksburg, VA
-Stevenson vs William Peace in Fredericksburg, VA
Stevenson vs Catholic at home
Stevenson at Marymount (VA) in Arlington, VA
Stevenson vs Alvernia at home