FVSU men’s volleyball team looks to build on inaugural season

Fort Valley State University became one of six HBCUs to add men's volleyball to its sports curriculum last year.

FORT VALLEY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Fort Valley State University became one of six HBCUs to add men’s volleyball to its sports curriculum last year.

For head coach Larry Wrather, season one was about setting the foundation.

“My main point I wanted to hit for the first year was just solidifying the culture,” he said. “If you get your culture set in right, you get it where you want it to be, you’re going to take off. We talk about building a house in our program. We’re building this beautiful mansion, but it doesn’t matter how beautiful this mansion is if the foundation is cracked.”

Recruiting for a niche sport like men’s volleyball can be a tough task. Coach Wrather conducts the normal duties of going to tournaments and hearing about players from other coaches, but for recruits, his elevator pitch will get heads turning.

“‘How would you feel being a part of the first HBCU to make history and make it to the NCAA Tournament?’ he asked. “Like that’s a simple one. You’re going to be in the history books to be the first-ever HBCU team to make it to the NCAA Tournament when you win this conference in 2024.”

The Wildcats will have to wait at least until 2024 to be eligible for a bid for the national tournament since conferences with newly initiated teams have a two-year probation until they can qualify. Regardless of the grace period, Coach Wrather has been on the hunt for athletes with a particular mindset.

“Looking for kids that are hungry, kids that have a little bit of a dog in them,” he said. “I always reference back is I look for those Allen Iversons, those Kobe Bryants that are just like, ‘I’m coming in. I don’t care if it’s practice, if it’s a match, I’m going 1000%.'”

Outside of recruiting those athletes with “dog-like” mentalities,  Wrather hopes to get more kids of color involved in the sport.

As a black man playing this sport, you’re a unicorn. Let’s be honest. You’re a unicorn. You’re not involved in this game. You’re not really seen. If you are, you’re this speckle of pepper in a sea of salt.”

Wrather is also the school’s women’s volleyball coach. The men’s season will begin again in the spring.

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