Some St. Thomas volleyball players don’t feel they received the respect they deserved from the athletics department, despite being one of the top teams at the school.
On Sunday night, the Tommies men’s volleyball team packed their bags for the trip to Holland College for the championships. The St. Thomas men’s volleyball team was set to leave for Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association nationals in Prince Edward Island on Tuesday, March 10. It would’ve given them time to settle in and mentally prepare themselves for the tournament.
On Monday, they found out they wouldn’t be leaving until Wednesday morning because practice time originally scheduled for the morning had been moved to noon on Wednesday. This meant they would travel and have their only practice before the tournament on the same day. It also meant the Tommies wouldn’t have time to analyze other teams.
Tommies head coach Francis Duguay requested a bus with access to Wi-Fi so his team could stream and analyze games while on the road. The bus the team travelled in didn’t have access to Wi-Fi.
“It’s unfortunate we didn’t get the credibility we deserved,” said Will Rochlow, a fourth-year player for the Tommies. “We’re stuck driving three and a half hours the morning of our practice for the simple fact that we’re trying to save a couple dollars.”
Staying one less night in a hotel saved the athletics department about $2,500. Mike Eagles, St. Thomas University athletics director, said saving money played a role in the decision to travel to Charlottetown on Wednesday, but it wasn’t the determining factor.
“If we were practicing at 10 o’clock in the morning, would we have left at five o’clock? No, we would have left the night before,” said Eagles. “It’s not unreasonable to leave the day of when you practice at noon on the Island.”
Despite the circumstances, the Tommies won their first match of the tournament. They lost the next two, putting an end to a successful season.
The CCAA held a closing ceremonies after the tournament concluded, but the Tommies weren’t able to attend.
According to Eagles, the athletic department made the decision to bring the team home from the tournament a day early due to poor forecasted weather conditions.
The Tommies were the only team to miss the athlete’s closing ceremony, and a social put on by the host team.
Rochlow isn’t convinced the decision was based on weather conditions.
The men’s volleyball side is wondering why the athletic department is willing to pay for separate buses for other teams, but not willing to fund their team’s original itinerary for nationals.
Some members of the team washed the sour taste in their mouths down with the hotel wine during their last night in Charlottetown, which was charged to the university.
After Rochlow was interviewed, the athletics department asked the team not to talk to media in regards to the tournament.
“How often does a St. Thomas team – especially a program that was cancelled four years ago – get to go to nationals?” asked Rochlow. “It would’ve been nice for it to be treated as one of the biggest weekends of most of our careers and not just a money saver.”
An earlier version of this story stated incorrectly that the St. Thomas University basketball teams took separate buses to their playoffs in Saint John.
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