HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Todd Caughlin has witnessed several new athletic programs make their introduction to Coker, and now he gets the opportunity to lead his own.
The Coker men's volleyball team begins its inaugural season in 2013, taking the court in the season opener Jan. 25 at the Pfeiffer Invitational. Caughlin, who serves as head coach of both the men's and women's programs, has lined up a team ready to compete in Conference Carolinas.
"I am beyond excited about the men's program starting up," said Caughlin. "I feel we have put together a strong unit that is ready to make its mark in the league."
Those on campus and in the area that are used to women's volleyball will be in for a treat. The men's game is different in two specific areas – height and speed. The game is played on a higher net than the women use, and the speed of the game is arguably twice as fast.
"Fans will be in for a treat at our matches," said Caughlin. It's a completely different ballgame than the women's. The game is faster, higher and the ball striking is much harder. It's really exciting to watch."
With it being the Cobras' first season in Conference Carolinas and having a very young team, Caughlin wasn't sure what to expect. But after strong performances in practice and scrimmages, it appears his goals – and the team's – may have changed.
"When recruiting for this season, I had to look at volleyball 'hotspots,'" said Caughlin. "I believe we have a nice variety of players. They have gelled well and I am really excited to show everyone what Coker men's volleyball is all about."
The Cobras have been hard at work and competed in a few scrimmages during the fall. The live action showed the team and its coach what could be in store for the first season.
"I think the men were a bit surprised at how they performed in the fall," said Caughlin. "I was very happy with their efforts in the live action we saw. They are as determined as ever to prove everyone what they are made of and to go all the way."
Caughlin's squad is made up of players from the United States, Canada, Venezuela and the Ivory Coast. It consists of two juniors, one sophomore and the rest freshmen. With the entire team being new, chemistry on and off the court would naturally be a concern. But this group has meshed from day one and is ready to roll.
"Everyone gets on really well and we learn from each other," said Caughlin. "We believe that we can do something special this year, which is great. There are a few leaders on the team, but in order to be successful it will have to be a whole group effort. I think we can do that and accomplish something. It's going to be an exciting season."
Coker's inaugural season begins against Alderson-Broadus College in the Pfeiffer Invitational.