by Maggie Fipps
Remember in elementary school when you were casually walking through the grocery store, investigating the types of macaroni on the shelf, or clutching your mom’s hand? Suddenly, you saw your kindergarten teacher out of the corner of your eye. The surprising feeling of seeing someone out of their usual environment flooded you. As your mom chats with them, you realize that they’re a living, genuine person that does the same things you do.
Some students may have that startled feeling as they look across the court at Dr. Geoffrey Holloway facing them in volleyball. However, the sport of volleyball has connected the chemistry professor and the student body through a mutual admiration of the game.
Holloway began his volleyball experience at Cedarville playing pickup games with students in the fieldhouse. He had been drawn to the game throughout high school and college because of its unique aspects as a team sport.
“I like volleyball because a lot of it has to do with communication or making sure you’re playing as a team. If you’re not the best at a particular thing, you can still do pretty well if everybody’s on the same page,” Holloway said.
Eventually, the students he got to know playing casual games became his first intramural team, where he sometimes serves as a team captain. Two years ago, he became the faculty advisor for the men’s club volleyball team, where he helps out in practice. He generally doesn’t think of himself as a coach, though his impact is huge for the players.
Steven Elizee, president of the club volleyball team and assistant coach for the JV women’s volleyball team, describes this tension of roles in a conversation he had with Holloway.
“He said he’s good at sitting on the side and seeing what we need rotation-wise and player-wise. He told me he’s not good at trying to fix the problem, but he’s good at visualizing the problem,” Elizee said.
Elizee even said that Holloway turns down a coaching role during games, preferring to stick to one-on-one instruction. He draws on his 20 years of teaching experience to explain the nuances of the game to newer players.
Miranda Strobl, the health and safety officer of the club team, thinks his teaching mindset is the key to his coaching style.
“A lot of guys have never played volleyball before, so having him teach the basics, and as they grow, teach them more advanced techniques has been very crucial for the club team and just for their personal growth too,” Strobl said.
His analytical brain is perfect for the more strategic side of volleyball, which casual players may be unfamiliar with. According to Holloway, rotations in volleyball are crucial to put players in the best situation to succeed.
His advanced style of play is like a high school biology teacher also teaching the AP version of the class. At first, it can be hard to understand the higher-level instruction, but eventually, students learn and develop.
Hank Hacker, a sophomore on the club team, describes a moment where Holloway’s tone shifted from coach to teacher.
“A couple of weeks ago, he brought a whiteboard, and seven different colors of markers to practice. For thirty minutes, the whole team was standing around and he went through every single rotation, he had everything color-coded, and really helped the team understand that stuff,” said Hacker.
One of Holloway’s primary goals within the team is to incorporate new players, even if that comes at a cost to strategy.
“Especially when we’re just playing pick-up games, I really just want people to learn the game while playing the game and to be comfortable in it. I want them to go and feel free to play volleyball and enjoy doing that,” said Holloway.
It has never been about winning the game for Holloway.
“He doesn’t just come to play volleyball, he comes for the relationships,” Hacker said.