Continuing to develop its intercollegiate athletics program, Spurgeon College announced plans on Nov. 21 to field a women’s volleyball team at its Kansas City campus.
Possessing collegiate-level facilities and having hired a head coach, the process of forming the women’s volleyball team is now fully underway.
In October of 2018, Midwestern Seminary’s trustees received plans from the administration to field sports teams at Spurgeon College through the NCCAA—beginning with basketball. Earlier this month, the school announced its intent to field men’s and women’s soccer teams.
Now, with the hiring of Evie Stanton as head coach, the college informed the NCCAA of the school’s intent to field a women’s volleyball team.
“We are thrilled to announce the addition of women’s volleyball to the athletic program at Spurgeon College,” said President Jason Allen. “The new athletics programs on campus have generated a great deal of enthusiasm amongst our college and seminary community. Adding ladies’ volleyball to the mix, I believe, will take the campus experience to an even higher level.
“I am also very pleased to introduce Evie Stanton as the program’s head coach. After conducting a thorough search for the right leader for this position, it was clear that Coach Stanton possessed all the attributes we desired in leading this team. Coach Stanton possesses significant personal experience at the Division I college-level, and she also possesses great energy, substantial knowledge of the game, and excellent leadership abilities. Most importantly, she sees volleyball as an environment that’s conducive to discipleship of young ladies for the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Before coming to Kansas City, Stanton played volleyball at the University of Central Arkansas for two years, where she earned academic and athletic all-conference honors her sophomore year. She finished her final two years at Mississippi State University, where she landed second in the record books for most kills in a single season at 499 during her senior campaign. That same year, she placed in the top 5 in the SEC in six different categories: aces per set, total aces, kills per set, total kills, total attacks, and total points, as well as top 25 in the entire NCAA in four of those categories.
“I feel extremely honored and blessed to be given the opportunity to coach volleyball at Spurgeon College. I have always desired to use volleyball as a means of ministry, and Spurgeon College is the perfect place for that,” Stanton said. “The initial plan for the team is simple: to strive to be growing and learning both on the court and in our relationships with the Lord every single day. With this as the mindset, I think it will propel us toward success. My hope is to eventually be a competitor in the NCCAA championships.”
Stanton added that she’s encouraged by the excitement and energy about the program that’s building around campus and said she senses that the program will pay even greater dividends than meet the eye.
“The advent of this team will mean more than just having another team to cheer for,” Stanton said. “It will mean another group of people gets to be discipled and prepared to face the world through the eyes of Scripture in order to further the Kingdom of God, which is invaluable.”
During its initial campaign, the team will play at the junior varsity level with a majority of the team’s competition being local and regional NAIA and Division II squads.
Stanton noted that program planning, development, and recruiting are underway but in their earliest stages. She has also been spending time formulating the values and framework for the team, so that the players and assistants will know why they do what they do, and exactly how they are going to do it. This includes developing the coaching philosophy, the vision, the team’s mission, as well as the offensive and defensive schemes.
From a recruiting standpoint, Stanton noted that the athletes she’s interacted with show a great deal of enthusiasm about the opportunity to play volleyball while obtaining a high-quality, Christ-centered education. She added there’s a specific type of player that she’s interested in joining the team.
“Character is the most important thing to me, so I will look for players who have great work ethic and play with humility. On the court, I am looking for players who have great ball control, court awareness, and who give maximum effort on every play.”
The Knights will begin play in the fall of 2020 with matches potentially being lined for an August or September start. Matches will be played on Midwestern Seminary’s campus in the Mathena Student Center. Stanton hopes to have between 15 and 20 matches for the inaugural season.
Patrick Hudson is assistant professor of communications and history at Spurgeon College.