UNH men's club volleyball players always seem to know where every other teammate is on the court. Call it familial instincts, if you will.
"There's one thing we have that a lot of teams don't have together, and that's camaraderie," says head coach Dave Carson. "Our team is about being a family. The guys on this team really enjoy being around one another, and they have this really special relationship on and off the court."
This past April, that rapport helped the team earn a trip to the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation's national championships in Houston. Undefeated during the tournament, UNH beat Ball State, West Virginia, Cal State Chico, Stanford and then Rhode Island 25-17, 29-27 in the finals to win the Division 1AA national championship.
It was the perfect end to an impressive 10-2 regular season for UNH. The Wildcats were led by senior captain Jeff Aucoin '11, who has a 41-inch vertical jump. "It was great to finally cap it off," says Aucoin, a Boston native who is attending Ball State this fall as a graduate student.
"Every year we had been this top-15 team, but we had never been able to win the title," says Aucoin, who was granted a waiver by the NCAA to play on Ball State's Division I varsity team next season. "We had even finished ninth in the country twice while I was on the team. It was an amazing feeling to finally take the title home."
The men's volleyball team won its first national championship—in Division II—in 1995. Carson says he saw a stark improvement in how the team played together as a unit over the past two years, so winning the championship wasn't a complete surprise. On the other hand, it hasn't completely sunk in yet. "I haven't really celebrated," says Carson.
"There's definitely a feeling of elation, but this is about the players who played on the court," he says. "Ultimately, this isn't just about volleyball, but about life. One of the parents came up to me and said that they trust me with their child. For me, that was as good as winning a national championship. We are all about being a family."Return to UNH Magazine Campus Currents