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Volleyball returns to university in 2009-2010

Monday, April 7, 2008  
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By Tiffany Sherman

Oklahoma Christian University students and fans will have the opportunity to attend even more athletic events as volleyball returns as an official sport for the university in the 2009-2010 school year.

Volleyball was a part of the Oklahoma Christian tradition from 1974 until 1983. Several reasons contributed to ending the program.

"There were a few things that really factored into the decision to drop volleyball, the main one being expenses," Director of Athletic Marketing & Communications Wes McKenzie said. "Other schools were dropping it, so the team would have to travel more, and this only added to the expense of keeping the team playing. So essentially, the expense compared to the performance made it hard to justify continuing it."

After 15 years without volleyball, Oklahoma Christian is excited to bring it back.

"We wanted to bring it back because there were lots of people wanting it, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni," Athletic Director DeWayne Hall said. "It is a popular sport and gaining popularity here in the Midwest, and we wanted to have it."

Students are also getting excited to see a new women's program at Oklahoma Christian.

"I am really excited that OC is bringing volleyball back," junior Jessica Ryan said. "I think it will be exciting to see how they will do and to watch a sport that I haven't been able to see here in the past."

As a former volleyball player, sophomore Kellie Olive believes it will be a strong addition to the Oklahoma Christian sports community.

"Volleyball is a really exciting sport that I'm sure a lot of students at OC can really get into," Olive said. "I myself really look forward to getting the chance to watch some of their games."

Bringing back an old program has led many to wonder if Title IX had influence. With baseball finishing their first season, there are seven male sports and six women sports at Oklahoma Christian.

"Although the NAIA isn't bound to Title IX, like NCAA sports are, DeWayne Hall and others here at OC feel that it is important to have an equal amount of opportunity for women to play sports as men do," McKenzie said. "With the addition of baseball, it was a good time to bring back another women's sport."

Now that Oklahoma Christian has a program, they need a coach. The athletic department is currently in the process of finding a new coach and has high hopes a coach will be hired by mid-summer 2008.

"We are in the process of sending out news releases and getting information in different publications," McKenzie said. "We are hoping that through these and through word of mouth, we will have a good response for coaches."

While Oklahoma Christian has expanded the athletic programs over the last few years, there may not be any further additions in the near future.

"There isn't anything on the horizon for the addition of any other sports," McKenzie said.

Hard work is done every year to help student-athletes perform at their highest level. The athletic department works for the athletes that play now and are planning on doing all they can to do the same for the incoming volleyball players.

"Right now, my focus and concentration is on the sports we will and do offer with the addition of volleyball, and in helping make them competitive at the highest levels and helping them gain the support they need to compete at the highest levels," Hall said.

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