I am not sure I can describe adequately the excitement and tension in our gym last Saturday night (April 16, 2011). We were hosting the finals of the Division III men’s volleyball tournament. The place was packed with enthusiastic, screaming fans. Naz was in the finals after having an extraordinary year with a 31-3 record. While we are in only our 7th season, we were playing Springfield, a perennial volleyball powerhouse.
To get to the finals Nazareth played an amazingly close and exciting match against a team from Carthage College in Wisconsin. In this semi-final match, Nazareth was down 2-1 in games and losing 22-19 in the fourth game. We came back to win that game and then win the fifth and deciding game to qualify for the finals.
The final match against Springfield was well played by both teams and quite tense, with the lead changing back and forth. Nazareth won the first game but lost the second. Not to be denied, the Nazareth team fought back and won the final two games. The students rushed onto court to congratulate the Division III men’s volleyball national champions, the Nazareth Golden Flyers!!
As I watched the event I was reminded of why I so enjoy Division III sports. Students play not because they expect to get pro contracts but out of love for the sport. They fully understand, however, that their academic pursuits are more important and, in this regard are truly scholar athletes. Through the experience, they make life-long friends and they learn life skills—team work, time management, leadership, and the ability to deal with disappointment as well as success.
It was a great night for the players, the coaches, and the entire Nazareth community.