Volleyball: A Cavs tradition


By James Howey

Photo by Kate Jacobsen
Photo by Kate Jacobsen

For many years the college’s volleyball team has been a juggernaut in national Junior college volleyball landscape. The program has seen twenty East Jayhawk conference titles, thirteen NJCAA Tournament appearances, nineteen NJCAA All-American players, and five top four finishes including a National title in 2005 under long time head coach Jill Stinson.

Stinson was head coach for Cavs volleyball 11 years from 1997-2008 and had an impressive record of 299-1201. Stinson only lost 16 conference games in all her time at the college.

According to Stinson coaching at the college was the time of her life. “I loved the players, watching them grow in their life as young women and competitive volleyball players,” Stinson said. “I truly enjoyed bringing student athletes to a school and a volleyball program that I knew was going to do it’s very best to help them be successful on and off the court.”

Under Stinson the Cavs have had 53 all-conference performers, 10 NJCAA All- Americans, five player’s selected NJCAA All-Tournament team at nationals, and 15 student-athletes that earned NJCAA Academic All-American. Stinson looked at winning almost as a second thought to working hard in practice.

“My primary focus was, teaching the game of volleyball, getting better as individual players and as a team and winning was kind of the by-product,” Stinson said. “The players probably knew more about what our record was that I did, it wasn’t something I focused on, but I absolutely knew we were getting better every day and that was most important.”

Following the departure of Stinson, the door was opened for the current head coach Jennifer Ei. Ei was an NJCAA Academic All-America honors her one year playing volleyball for the college in 2002 and was excited to take the reins of the program. “It was wonderful and an excellent learning experience to coach under Jill Stinson and then be able to take over the program was exciting to carry on the tradition.” Ei said. “I looked at the new head coaching position as a challenge and thrilled we have been successful both on and off the court.”

Ei has continued the success of the volleyball program as head coach with a record of 172-45. Ei has led the Cavs to nationals five of her six seasons leading the team and has them in contention once again this year. Ei says that players that come to play volleyball at the college have to be willing to push themselves on and off the court.

“It is important to find players who are willing to learn more about the game and themselves as players to become the best version of themselves,” Ei said. “It is essential for us to find players who have a strong work ethic because we demand a lot from them on the court and in the classroom.”

Ei enjoys the atmosphere that surrounds the college for volleyball and hopes to keep the tradition going. “We are very fortunate to compete in a strong competitive conference and also enjoy life outside of volleyball,” Ei said. “It is a family oriented place and we hope to keep this ongoing culture here at JCCC.”

Sara Slater played volleyball at the college from 2011-2012 and is third all-time in Cavs history in digs. For Slater playing at the college was an experience she will never forget. “Playing at JCCC for two years went by way too fast, Slater said. “There were a lot of times where the girls and I would say that we wish it was a four year school.”

Slater was able to play with four other players she had already played on the same club team with and they only got closer through those two years. “Along with those five girls I made great lasting friendships with everyone else I played with both years,” Slater said. “We loved each other and loved playing together and that’s what helped make my two years so special at JCCC.”

Slater doesn’t necessarily think of a specific game or moment when remembering playing at the college. Instead she thinks of the wonderful times she had with her teammates. “My best memory playing at JCCC would probably just be playing with my best friends.”

Contact James Howey, sports editor, jhowey@jccc.edu