Hillsdale Chargers Volleyball

Nobody Stands Alone

Volleyball Coach Chris Gravel On Balancing Academics And Athletics

Written by Jessie Fox

It was junior Kyra Rodi’s outstanding ACT score that first caught Hillsdale volleyball head coach Chris Gravel’s eye, but now Kyra is on study tables.

“Not because of her own grades, but because someone on her team got a 2.0 last semester, and this person has study tables,” Coach Gravel explains. “You don’t go to study tables alone. You have to bring two or three teammates with you, and it has to rotate.”

This situation demonstrates the Hillsdale College volleyball team’s unity and devotion to the idea that nobody stands alone. The women commit themselves to the program and to one another. For the volleyball players, academics come first, while volleyball is a close second. Coach Gravel says Kyra is the perfect example of this.

“Her strengths are putting her priorities in the right order. With her studies, it’s getting them down in the right fashion and getting them done early, avoiding procrastination when possible. She’s a very good prioritizer and takes very few breaks. She gets right to it now instead of later.”

Work ethic is a huge factor that comes into play when Coach Gravel is recruiting for his program, as he believes lazy students “just won’t make it at Hillsdale.”

“We tell them they need to be hard workers,” Coach Gravel says. “It’s great if you score a 35 on your ACT, but if you don’t work hard, you’re not going to make it here. If you’re able to approach people, ask professors for help, and get tutors, then you’ll make it and this college will help you succeed.”

Although most coaches choose to climb the ladder from Division II to Division I programs, Coach Gravel and his wife, Stephanie, have chosen to make Hillsdale their home for the last twenty years. And it’s all because of the players.

“It’s the people we graduate,” he says, smiling. “I can’t think of any person we’ve graduated here for twenty years doing poorly. They’re doing something. It doesn’t mean they never have a bad day, but they’re able to cope, and they have a lot of options.”

Jessie FoxJessie Fox, ’17, is a native Michigander from Chelsea, MI, studying marketing/management and Spanish with a minor in journalism. She is a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, works for Campus Recreation, and is an assistant editor for the college newspaper.