By: Emmi Rubera
Like many other college students, Matthew Wiepert has a lot to balance. The difference is, however, not only does he have the responsibilities of being in college, but he is also a player and the captain of the men’s club volleyball team. But after all, volleyball is something he’s spent most of his life doing.
“I’ve been playing volleyball for 11 years which is actually more than half of my life,” says Wiepert.
Being a student, a player and a coach has not been easy on Wiepert as it has come with stress. He struggles with advancing not only his, but also the other player’s skills.
“It is extremely stressful. I’m working with guys who are older than me and guys who are better than me so it’s hard trying to maintain that balance where I’m not only trying to better myself but I am also trying to better the other players both on the court and with schoolwork,” says Wiepert.
Wiepert has devoted most of his life to playing volleyball. Lots of the time when he plays it’s with his friends. But it is not so easy to be playing with his friends when he is also coaching them says Wiepert.
“It can be hard at times because I want to be able to give people equal playing time but again we’re at a national level so it is more based on skill,” says Wiepert. “I’m still learning how to be both the coach and their friends. I have to tell them things they can improve on and how much they can play so I am definitely still trying to break through these two hours or however long we practice letting them know I’m not your friend right now, I’m your coach.”
Wiepert says that he tries to make sure that balancing his schoolwork and everything with the club don’t interfere with each other but it isn’t always easy.
“As far as schoolwork goes I make sure there is not a question of if I have stuff to do or not before going to practice or games. As hard as it can be I always make sure I have a balance between homework and volleyball,” says Wiepert
Cal Bawden is one of the players on the RIT men’s club volleyball team and a friend of Wiepert. He says he understands that he is going through a lot and that it must be stressful for Wiepert to balance school and the team.
“Honestly I don’t know how he does it I’m super stressed a lot because of school alone and then also being a player on the team and having friends outside of school is a lot you know like a life outside of school. But I have a lot of respect for Wieps (Wiepert) he is always going out of his way to like check in with us and tell us when we need to step up or have more energy of like anything really,” says Bawden.
Bawden has not only played on the college club team with Wiepert but also played with him at an armory club in Rochester. He says playing with him then is basically the same as playing on the college club team.
“Even though he is the coach of this team he still finds ways to play how we would if we were just hanging out at the armory. Yeah sometimes he’s harder on us because that’s what is going to make us better as a team and I think that’s pretty cool of him, ” says Bawden
Bawden says that Wiepert and him work well together on and off the court
“He (Wiepert) is not only a good friend of mine but overall he is like a really good coach. He is constantly making hard decisions that I think I would have a hard time doing. He sets to me when I am on the outside in the front and that’s when I usually get some pretty hard and good hits in and we score a lot,” says Bawden.
The RIT men’s club volleyball team has 65 members. Coaching that many people while also playing on the team and being a student is a lot, but Wiepert manages to “set” the balance with all the things on his plate.