Toms River, New Jersey — The Ocean County College Athletics Department has been awarded a grant from the NJCAA Foundation and First Point Volleyball Foundation to launch a men’s volleyball program. The grant will support the addition of men’s volleyball to the Vikings’ sports programs, beginning in the spring of 2023.
“We’re very excited to offer OCC student-athletes the opportunity to compete in men’s volleyball at the collegiate level,” said Ilene Cohen, OCC’s executive director of Athletics. “To that end, we’re extremely grateful for the $10,000 grant from the NJCAA Foundation and First Point Volleyball Foundation that will help us to launch this program as we continue to grow the sport in this state.”
In May, the NJCAA, in collaboration with First Point Volleyball Foundation, announced a $200,000 grant to support the growth of men’s volleyball as an emerging sport within the Association. The NJCAA Foundation awarded grants to 15 member colleges, including OCC, to support men’s volleyball becoming a full NJCAA championship sport.
“As one of 19 First Point Foundation board members, I can say we are so proud to be able to support the NJCAA and these 15 institutions starting men’s volleyball,” said Mick Haley, First Point Volleyball Foundation volunteer board member and AVCA Hall of Famer.
A former men’s volleyball coach at Kellogg Community College (MI), Haley led the program to four NJCAA national championships (back when the sport was sponsored) before stints as head women’s coach at the University of Texas, University of Southern California, and the 2000 US Women’s Olympic Team in Sydney.
“Two-year colleges present the most affordable opportunity for young people to play college volleyball during a time when students want to stay closer to home,” Haley continued. “Our hope at First Point is to see 35 or 40 more two-year colleges follow these 15 and sponsor men’s volleyball.”
With 12 high schools in Ocean County offering boys’ volleyball teams, the addition of this program at OCC will provide the opportunity for those athletes to continue to compete and will encourage those who have held an interest in the sport to consider attending Ocean County College.
“The ability to create more opportunities for student-athletes to compete in college and take part in a growing sport is one of the ultimate wins the NJCAA Foundation can achieve,” said Brian Luckett, executive director of the NJCAA Foundation. “We are appreciative of First Point Volleyball Foundation for making this possible and the NJCAA member colleges who have stepped up to make history by bringing back men’s volleyball to the association.”
First Point Volleyball Foundation is taking men’s volleyball participation to unprecedented heights, creating opportunities for young men to develop as players and as individuals.
“As we work to prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games, all of us at USA Volleyball are excited by this awesome news of 15 newly announced men’s collegiate volleyball programs at two-year colleges,” said John Speraw, founder and volunteer chairman of the First Point Volleyball Foundation, and head coach of the US Men’s National Team and UCLA Men’s Volleyball.
“I suspect it won’t be long before an NJCAA athlete will play for Team USA,” Speraw added. “I want to personally thank all the donors to First Point Volleyball Foundation, past and future, for making these grants possible.”
For more information regarding Ocean County College’s athletics programs, visit OCCVikings.com.
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About First Point Volleyball Foundation
Founded in 2016 by John Speraw, head coach of the USA Men’s National Team and UCLA Men’s Volleyball, and Wade Garard, First Point Volleyball Foundation exists to provide opportunities for young people to mature and develop through volleyball. Specifically focused on growing boys’ and men’s volleyball in the United States, First Point Volleyball Foundation initiates and celebrates FIRST POINTS whether that is a first point of a new collegiate team, or a new high school team, or a first point of competitive volleyball for a 12-year-old. The Foundation has three strategic initiatives: (1) Growing collegiate opportunities; (2) Growing high school boys’ opportunities; and (3) the Extending Reach Diversity Initiative – expanding volleyball opportunities to boys and men of color.
About NJCAA Foundation
The mission of the NJCAA Foundation is to enhance the NJCAA national organization, student-athletes, member colleges and local communities through financial support, scholarships, program initiatives and community service.