Q&A with VInnie Lopes, author of "The Volleyball Debate"
The Daily News
The Ball State men’s volleyball program is coming off of one of the most successful seasons in recent program history.
In “The Volleyball Debate,” Vinnie Lopes, former editor-in-chief at the Ball State Daily News, chronicles a rich history that makes the program’s modern-day success possible.
From a 1960s athletic department that fought to keep men’s volleyball a club sport, to the rich line of coaching careers that have grown from Don Shondell’s legacy, Lopes provides readers with an in-depth look at the volleyball program’s history.
Q: Is this your first time being published?
A: Yeah, this is my first book that just came out so it’s very exciting. We’ll see where we go from here next, in terms of the next book. I have a couple ideas, but for now I’m just enjoying this book coming out.
Q: How rewarding is it to finally see your book materialize?
A: It’s really rewarding for me, but I think the bigger thing is being able to know that the story is out there. We’re at a time-point now with this story where it has been told orally before, as that’s how its been passed down. But there’s never been a story like this about how this team started written down, so it’s fully preserved for future generations.
Q: What is ‘The Volleyball Debate’ all about?
A: Ball State [volleyball] became a varsity sport in 1964, but leading up to that there was this five-year debate and struggle about whether or not volleyball should be a varsity sport. You had an athletic director and other people within the athletic department that did not want it to become a varsity sport; they didn’t feel that it warranted being a varsity sport and other people felt it should be one, and it was an area that Ball State could excel in.
Q: What drove volleyball into becoming a varsity sport?
A: First and foremost, it was the work of Don Shondell. Don Shondell, former coach at Ball State, he started the Ball State men’s volleyball program. He was very adamant about growing volleyball, not only at Ball State, but throughout the Midwest. What happened in the 1960s, is you had Ball State become a leader in volleyball. There was no conference; Don Shondell started one that is still around today, the MIVA.
Q: How did Don Shondell’s experience lead into his sons entering the sport?
A: He just brought that love for the sport into his home and just kind of carried it through his family. What you see now, is not only are they great in volleyball, but the Don Shondell coaching tree. Whether it’s Steve Shondell who is coaching at Ball State, or Dave Shondell at Purdue, or even Don Shondell’s grandchildren.
Q: What’s one thing you would tell potential readers?
A: This is a book that touches multiple theories of interest, so even if you’re not a Ball State volleyball fan, if you’re just a fan of Ball State sports, you’re going to read it and understand the modern-day implications of the athletic department and why we see some struggles in the modern-day athletic department.
Q: How has the reception for your book been so far?
A: So far it’s been great. I’ve had people coming to me wanting to get a copy. Obviously, its not like ‘Harry Potter,’ so I didn’t have people lined up at midnight for it. But it’s been great to see people, whether it’s tweeting me ‘hey, how can I get a copy?’ or saying I’m going to get a copy with my next paycheck.
Q: Any ideas for your second book?
A: Nothing too specific right now, I’m just going to kind of sit back and enjoy this book being released. As Don Shondell told me, I’ve covered the first four years of Ball State men’s volleyball and there’s another 46 years left, so that’s a possibility.
Lopes’ book is being sold, at least initially, only as an e-book. It can be purchased through his website, offtheblockblog.org