Women's volleyball team builds on last year's championship resultsby on Jul 14, 2017
Kevin Kramer, finishing his tenth year coaching women's volleyball at Gavilan College, says the excitement continues to grow as he oversees expansion of the program.
The fall team roster has been built, though anyone new to the college and to the area might walk in the door. Strengths of the 2017 team include five returning players from the state championship team from last year. Joining them are eight women who have played with someone else on the team at other locations, so no one is really new. As the team bonds and learns together, they have history together.
The 2016 Gavilan College women's volleyball team, which competed in the state finals.
Asked about a repeat, Kramer acknowledged it would be tough but not out of the question. "Last year was our first trip to the state championship," he said. It is possible the level of talent this fall could exceed last year. He will monitor how well the players mesh, play together and assess their mental toughness. "The pieces we need to have are there to return to state championships."
The women practice or play competitive matches five days a week, sometimes six. Student athletes are required to take a fulltime load of 12 units, and many students take 15 units or more. "Our main goal is to move the student athlete on to the four-year level, or get their AA and graduate," he said.
Kinesiology and Athletics students work with a dedicated academic counselor, Darlene Del Carmen, herself a former student athlete. She is versed in graduation requirements, transfer requirements to play sports at college and additional student services available on campus.
"The majority of students we recruit have been very good in the classroom," Kramer said. "Of the 13 athletes committed to playing 2017, they have a 3.4 GPA or better."
Gavilan College student athletes can compete for two years in a single sport. They can add a third year if they play their first year just as practice. Students can also play other sports of their choosing for two years. At the community college level, scholarships are not offered. The focus is on helping the student to advance to a four-year college on a scholarship.
Kramer recruits for the Gavilan team based on long-term relationships with area high school coaches and community volleyball programs. In addition to the Rams women's volleyball performance the past three years, students are drawn to the facilities. The athletic facilities are undergoing improvements, including a new floor and bleachers in the gym. "It might seem like a shiny new paint job," said Kramer, "but we see it as another tool in our box. What prospective players see, the first impression of our athletic program, along with the park like campus setting, shows we care about the athletes, they will be taken care of."
In addition to recruiting for the college team, Kramer mentors his athletes through their own transfers to four-year schools in the various divisions. "We make sure the student really wants to continue to play and provide information from receiving school coaches," he said.
While some schools do all the work for the player, Gavilan coaches sit down with the student to create a wish list of schools based scholarship money and level of play. Once the details are outlined, the student steps in and works with their potential incoming coaches.
Beginning next week, the outdoor athletic fields will undergo a major renovation. The baseball and softball areas will be rebuilt to ADA accessibility requirements. Other improvements will be installed as well.
Players have had to use other beach volleyball facilities in the past. This fall Gavilan
College will install sand courts on campus.
Kramer is excited the plan includes installation of four sand volleyball courts between the two ball fields. "This crossover between indoor and beach volleyball will add another competitive sport for student athletes," he said. Indoor volleyball players focus on specialized skills in positions such as back or setters. Beach volleyball requires players demonstrate prowess in all the positions with pure athleticism and skills transfer.
"The kinesiology class in beginning beach volleyball, an unbelievably great workout, will be up and running in Spring 2018," Kramer said, with a Gavilan team out there. By the following fall the class will be offered campus wide. The addition of sand courts creates the opportunity for Gavilan to become the volleyball center for South County.
Recently Kramer was elected California Community College Coaches Association representative of all coaches, all sports in the state. His involvement will help the growth of the volleyball program in the area, volleyball across the state, and generate visibility about Gavilan players among coaches nationwide.
He credited his own success to colleagues such as Chris Spence, assistant volleyball coach the past ten years, and to the support of Ron Hannon, dean of the program, with his ability to let people do what they do well.
"Student athletes achieve more than they realize, the best version of themselves," Kramer said. "At the end of the day, the team of players, staff, teachers, and trainers are the ones who built this."