CRANFORD – Union County College recently received a $10,000 grant from the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and First Point Volleyball Foundation to establish a men’s volleyball team for spring 2022.
“Thank you to the NJCAA Foundation and the First Point Volleyball Foundation for providing the opportunity to expand the sports programs offered at Union,” stated Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin, Union President. “With the addition of a men’s volleyball team at Union, we are able to engage more students in athletics while they earn a high-quality education.”
The addition of men’s volleyball to Union’s athletic department brings the total number of sports offered to 17.
“I am excited to start recruiting for this new team and to help prepare them for competition in the spring 2022 semester,” stated Tammy Smith, Union’s Dean of College Life/Director of Athletics. “I look forward to meeting those who will become the members of our inaugural men’s volleyball team. It’s a great opportunity to get involved on campus and build bonds with fellow student-athletes.”
In May, the NJCAA in collaboration with First Point Volleyball Foundation announced a $200,000 grant to support the growth of men’s volleyball as an emerging sport within the Association. Grants were awarded to 15 member colleges, including Union, to support the initiative towards men’s volleyball becoming a full NJCAA championship sport.
“The ability to create more opportunities for student-athletes to compete in college and take part in a growing sport is one of the ultimate wins the NJCAA Foundation can achieve,” said Brian Luckett, NJCAA Foundation Executive Director. “We are appreciative of the First Point Volleyball Foundation for making this possible and the NJCAA member colleges who have stepped up to make history by bringing back men’s volleyball to the association.”
First Point Volleyball Foundation continues to spread influence to help men’s volleyball grow exponentially and has awarded $2.2 million in grants thus far.
“As one of 19 First Point Foundation board members, I can say we are so proud to be able to support the NJCAA and these 15 institutions starting men’s volleyball,” said Mick Haley, First Point Volleyball Foundation volunteer board member and AVCA Hall of Famer. A former men’s volleyball coach at Kellogg Community College (MI), Haley led the program to four NJCAA national championships, back when the sport was sponsored, before stints as head women’s coach at the University of Texas, University of Southern California, and the 2000 US Women’s Olympic Team in Sydney. “Two-year colleges present the most affordable opportunity for young people to play college volleyball during a time when students want to stay closer to home,” Haley continued. “Our hope at First Point is to see 35 or 40 more two-year colleges follow these 15 and sponsor men’s volleyball.”
The addition of men’s volleyball at these select NJCAA member colleges is another step towards supporting the growth and educational opportunities of two-year college athletics.
“As we work to prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games, all of us at USA Volleyball are excited by this awesome news of 15 newly announced men’s collegiate volleyball programs at two-year colleges,” stated John Speraw, First Point Volleyball Foundation Founder and volunteer Chairman and head coach of the US Men’s National Team and UCLA Men’s Volleyball. “I suspect it won’t be long before an NJCAA athlete will play for Team USA,” Speraw added. “I want to personally thank all the donors to First Point Volleyball Foundation, past and future, for making these grants possible.”
For more information about the athletic programs offered at Union County College, please visit www.unionowls.com.
About First Point Volleyball Foundation
Founded in 2016 by John Speraw, head coach of the USA Men’s National Team and UCLA Men’s Volleyball and Wade Garard, First Point Volleyball Foundation exists to provide opportunities for young people to mature and develop through volleyball. Specifically focused on growing boys’ and men’s volleyball in the United States, First Point Volleyball Foundation initiates and celebrates FIRST POINTS whether that is a first point of a new collegiate team, or a new high school team, or a first point of competitive volleyball for a 12-year-old. The Foundation has three strategic initiatives: (1) Growing collegiate opportunities; (2) Growing high school boys’ opportunities; and (3) the Extending Reach Diversity Initiative – expanding volleyball opportunities to boys and men of color.
About NJCAA Foundation
The mission of the NJCAA Foundation is to enhance the NJCAA national organization, student-athletes, member colleges and local communities through financial support, scholarships, program initiatives and community service.