Vanis Buckholz started playing volleyball during his sophomore and junior year in high school, and only a handful of years later, Buckholz has now been selected to play on the USA Men’s Collegiate National Team.
“I tried out my sophomore year in Spring and that was my first time ever playing volleyball and absolutely fell in love with it,” Buckholz said. “My summer going into junior year I started club volleyball at Balboa Bay, then I fully committed to it my junior year in high school.”
Buckholz, a sophomore, is a middle blocker for the Cardinals.
He will be in Anaheim, California, at the Team USA facility for the Collegiate Team through July 7.
The collegiate team will practice and train with the senior national team.
Andy Read, who is the coach of the USA Under 21 team and also an assistant volunteer coach at Long Beach State, has known and coached Vanis through some of his career.
“It [being on the USA Collegiate Team] recognizes him as one of the elite volleyball players collegiately in our country,” Read said. “I think when he does well there he will be mentioned to be involved in the Pan Am Cup group.
Read said that around five or six guys will stay over from the Collegiate team and will stay to play on the Pan Am Cup group, a team he coaches.
In years past some Ball State players have been on the Pan Am Cup. Kaleb Jenness and Quinn Isaacson. Jenness and Isaacson helped the team earn a bronze medal.
“It's pretty much a dream come true,” Buckholz said. “I started my sophomore-junior year in high school, and I would have never even imagined me being on the USA National Collegiate team. So I’m just speechless. It's going to be a very surreal week.”
Not only will Buckholz be playing for the team, Ball State head coach Donan Cruz will be one of the assistant coaches for the team.
Cruz said it is a testament to what Ball State is doing with the work they do during the year. He said representing the University and the volleyball program on this stage will be positive for everyone, showcasing world-class athletes.
“For us to get that kind of recognition and be able to be out there and represent Ball State is something that doesn't come every day,” Cruz said “I think is going to be something that Vanis and myself really enjoy while we're out there.”
Buckholz plans to create connections that are going to further his volleyball career and also being able to learn from more advanced players and the top NCAA collegiate athletes is something he is looking forward to.
Read said this week is important for Buckholz because if he is successful it paves the way for him to potentially play with the senior national team and even down a long road, go to the Olympics.
“Vanis is something special, he will be in that same gym, in that same environment [as Team USA], Read said. “His ability and his willingness to compete and do everything he can to go forward and is part of what makes him special. He's driven to be the very best he can be.”
Cruz said to be able to get the chance to go out to Anaheim and learn with other coaches who are doing great things for the game of volleyball is going to be great for Ball State University and the men’s volleyball program.
Buckholz is looking forward to the practices and learning new skills from professionals and gaining any skills he can take away from his time in Anaheim.