Fourth-year Men’s Volleyball player Mike Van Tyne was recently named by the United Volleyball Conference (UVC) as its first Player of the Week for the 2012 playing year.
Van Tyne, co-captain since his junior year, and the team are no strangers to success. Van Tyne got the news of his accomplishment in Elmira, N.Y. in a tournament where the team faced four competing colleges.
“That particular tournament was our first test to see where we are as a team,” Van Tyne said.
While setting himself apart from the competition early on, Van Tyne said he doesn’t see the accolade as an individual achievement.
“I really don’t think of being made UVC player as an accomplishment for me personally,” Van Tyne said. “I look at it as I had so many talented people working alongside me. We train hard as a team.”
Van Tyne recognized that, as a senior playing for SUNY New Paltz, this will be his break-out year for volleyball.
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Van Tyne said he planted the seed for his success when his high school volleyball coach Joe Bellanca, also his tennis coach, encouraged him to make the jump to volleyball.
“The first year, I was terrible,” Van Tyne said. “No, really. I didn’t even know where the lines were on the court.”
The summer before his senior year, Van Tyne participated in every major volleyball camp in order to prepare for the coming year. Beating the fourth and second seeded teams in sectionals, Van Tyne’s high school volleyball team was the seventh seed when they went to the Sectional Championship.
“It was the first time in a while that our high school had made it that far,” Van Tyne said.
Van Tyne worked tirelessly his senior year in preparation for college and was then recruited to play for SUNY New Paltz’s Men’s Volleyball.
“Each year of me playing under Coach Radu [Petrus] and other influential peoples’ instruction has made me so much better,” Van Tyne said.
Van Tyne said although the team has graduated many of the people who made his beginning years such a success, this year’s team is all on the same page and united under one goal.
During the winter intercession, the team drilled their skills in preparation for the coming games, Van Tyne said.
“The whole team is back here on Jan. 3 for practice twice a day,” Van Tyne said.
Van Tyne also said the team’s practices are very physical and labor intensive.
“Coach likes to get us tired,” Van Tyne said. “It’s frustrating and you definitely get angry, but that’s what makes you better.”
The acknowledgment from the UVC didn’t come as a shock to Men’s Head Coach Radu Petrus, who has seen Van Tyne grow as a player the past four years.
“From my point of view there is no surprise that Mike was chosen as UVC Player of the Week,” Petrus said. “As one of the top players on our volleyball team and with the most experience, he really is a natural choice.”
Petrus recently earned his 100th win on Feb. 4 in a 3-0 sweep of the Sage Colleges. Van Tyne has helped achieve 67 of Petrus’ wins.
The elation from the honor has grown into anticipation for the season, Van Tyne said.
“I feel like it’s just the start for me and the team,” Van Tyne said. “It’s a 30 match season, and we are only six into it.”
The team will definitely make it into the tournament as well as be first seed in the conference, Van Tyne said. To host the UVC conference is one of many goals for which they’re striving.
“The last four years have been tough, and there were times I wanted to quit,” Van Tyne said. “In the end, though, I look back and think that everything that tried to break me in the moment ended up getting me to where I am today.”
Sometimes the regrets of the past take over, Van Tyne said, but overall the outcome is worth it.
“If I can’t play volleyball after I graduate, I at least want to coach,” Van Tyne said. “It’s another opportunity to take a group of kids and transform them into something better than they were before.”
Van Tyne plans to move his talents to South Carolina for graduate school where he will also participate in the Teach for America program once he graduates in the spring.
“I like the idea of being part of a change,” Van Tyne said. “Whether that change is in my life or I’m helping it happen in someone else’s, I want to be there to watch it.”