Daemen College officials have announced the addition of men’s volleyball to teams sponsored by the institution for intercollegiate athletic competition. The official announcement was made at a press conference held on campus May 5 in the Lumsden Gymnasium, the future home of the men’s volleyball team, which will begin competition during the 2018-19 academic year.
To aid in establishing Daemen’s program, a $60,000 grant has been received from the MotorMVB Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on growing boys and men’s volleyball at all levels in the United States. While there are presently 188 collegiate programs nationwide, the organization’s goal is to help fund an increase to 380 programs by the start of the 2026-27 academic year.
“We are excited to be adding men’s volleyball to sports offered at Daemen College,’ said Bridget Niland, director of athletics. “In researching ways that Daemen Athletics can continue to have a positive impact on the college’s enrollment, it became evident that establishing a men’s volleyball program is an avenue worth pursuing. We have built a great partnership with MotorMVB, and I want to thank them for their ongoing guidance and support as we work to bring another quality NCAA Division II program into our coffers.”
Wade Garard, CEO of MotorMVB Foundation, said, “Our foundation board chairman John Speraw always says there is nothing more important than providing opportunities for the young people of this country. We are pleased to be able to help do this for boys in Western New York and from across the country who will come to Daemen and enjoy a meaningful student-athlete experience.”
Don Gleason, who assisted on coach Stephanie Albano’s staff with the Daemen women’s volleyball team during its run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last season, has been named as the team’s first head coach. He brings a wealth of experience to the position with previous coaching stops at the Division I and Division III levels.
“I’m very much looking forward to bringing a new and exciting level of men’s collegiate volleyball to Western New York,” said Gleason. “Building a program from scratch brings a whole set of challenges, but through conversations with Mr. Garard and coaches around the country who have gone through this, I couldn’t feel more strongly that the time is right for us to do this here at Daemen College. I want to thank Bridget Niland and President Gary Olson for instilling their trust in me to complete the task at hand.”
Daemen will become the 27th NCAA Division II men’s volleyball program in the country, and the only team north of the Mason-Dixon Line. NCAA Division II programs compete with their Division I counterparts for the national collegiate championship, and Division III opponents will likely be included in the schedule as well, according to Niland. Daemen will begin as an independent with an eye on joining a conference like the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association.
Daemen received letters of support in this endeavor from John Speraw, chairman of the MotorMVB Foundation board and head coach of the United States Men’s National Team, and from Men’s National Team member and Western New York native Matt Anderson.
Gleason will have a full calendar year to recruit team members, including prospective student-athletes in the high school graduating Class of 2018. The Daemen men’s volleyball team will officially open play in January 2019.