New volleyball coach encourages family culture

Ken Carver has it bad– the coaching bug.

Carver is the new women’s volleyball coach at John Brown University.

He graduated from Malone University with a degree in biology and went immediately into a resident director position at Indiana Wesleyan for four years. After working in the residence halls, he transitioned to another position to become the first full-time Intramural Sports Director.

“In the course of doing that, I had gotten to know the volleyball coaches there and was asked to come on staff,” Carver said. “Then after three years, I was really bit by the coaching bug and wanted to try it out as my own head coach.”

From Indiana Wesleyan, Carver went to a part-time coaching position at Trinity International University outside of Chicago. After ten months at Trinity, he coached at Mid-America Nazarene for three years and finally went on to coach at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas for eight years.

“First and foremost it’s all about relationships, and that comes out of my student development background,” Carver said. “I’m a part of an athletic department and a bigger campus university that places that emphasis on getting to know your students beyond just whatever that little sphere/niche is so that you can do life with them.”

Carver isn’t just interested in winning games and developing good athletes. He is concerned with the relational health of his teams as well as how athletics works alongside the rest of the University.

Vanessa Uhrhahn, outside hitter for the team, talked about what Carver offers.

“What the team appreciates most is his encouragement,” Uhrhahn said. “We all leave practices and games feeling motivated and valued. He focuses first on the team being a family and everything else follows.”

With Coach Carver here, the student body as a whole can expect a closer experience to the athletic program, as well as more club teams.

“The other major component of my job is to really help grow the club sports program here,” Carver said.

Carver also offered praise for the JBU coaching staff, our athletic director Robin Smith and the University president Chip Pollard.
“I was just really, really impressed with [Robin], her leadership and the vision she has for our department, as well as when I was able to meet with Dr. Pollard — some of the bigger picture he has, as it relates to how athletics integrates into campus,” Carver said.

Currently the volleyball team is 10-4, and Carver anticipates a great season. All of the University’s losses have come from teams that are either nationally ranked or have received votes towards the national poll.

“They’re just top notch,” Carver said of his players. “Beyond volleyball, their character, their work ethic, their coach ability … they’ve worked really hard.”

Carver saw this at the game against Wiley College.

“The very last point we had against Wiley was a scramble/defensive-hustle play,” Carver said. “A lot of teams would have stopped playing somewhere through the rally and said, ‘Well okay, we’ve given our best effort; we’re either getting the point or we’re not.’”

Our team got the point.

“The defensive tenacity, the persevering spirit that they’re not going to give up, definitely is a hallmark of our team.”

That tenacity is also something the team is working on.

“Goals that we are working toward this season: faster offense, aggressive serving and consistent passing percentages,” Uhrhahn said. “We want to win, of course, but what matters, win or lose, is that we play our game: our tempo, our aggressiveness, our focus. Our goal is that we do not let the other team dictate how we play. And, above all, use the gifts we have been given to play to the glory of God.”

Sept. 19th the volleyball team won their first conference game against Mid-America Christian in Oklahoma.