LEBANON — The challenge of starting a men's volleyball program from scratch has McKendree University's Nickie Sanlin both excited and a little anxious.
The Bearcats will begin competing in men's volleyball in January, 2014, the university announced on Tuesday.
Sanlin, 29, a 2001 graduate of Belleville East High School, has been hired as the school's first men's volleyball coach.
"It's really exciting, and it makes you a little bit nervous at the same time,'' Sanlin said. "I'm hoping to get my feet wet, get started, get some talented kids from the area and expand the horizons to Chicago and the surrounding states. Get some talented kids who want to play and want to be competitive and want to get a great education.''
McKendree becomes just the third school in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) to offer men's volleyball, joining Lewis University and Quincy University.
Since NCAA Division II doesn't sponsor men's volleyball championship sport, McKendree will compete as an independent.
Sanlin said the Bearcats initially will play NAIA schools and men's club teams from Division I schools like Illinois and St. Louis University.
"There is no shortage of club teams to play,'' Sanlin said. "Everybody looks at it like: It's only a club team. But, it's different for men. They don't have many opportunities.''
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.