Feature story was written by Andrea Ledvina for CUWFalcons.com
Sometimes you just have to trust the process and know that in the long run that the success will come.
Trust your teammates that they will put in the time in the weight room and work as hard as they can on the court during each practice and match. Trust in your coaches that their scheme will be the most effective and their hours spent recruiting will create the best team possible. Trust that when building a program from the ground up, the process will benefit everyone involved
"We were all given an opportunity to come into a program and make an impact right away," setter Connor Muff said. "You don't always get the chance to start a program and we are all super grateful to establish something from the ground up."
For a trio of Concordia Wisconsin's Men's Volleyball players, they were all excited for the opportunity to start a new program. There were many emotions during the inaugural season of 2018 for junior Matthew Korman.
The first year for the Falcons was about building the foundation for years to come, with some players playing out of position because of a lack of roster depth and some touching a volleyball for the first time.
Korman added that the whole team knew coming into that first year it was going to be difficult at times. "We knew it was not going to be pretty for the first year," the Roscoe, Illinois native added. "We never looked at the number of losses as a failure. Every team loses a game and we just had to learn how to be a team and build this thing for the future."
Freshmen James Althoff (Kenosha, Wisconsin) and Connor Muff (Kenosha, Wisconsin) along with other recruited men, joined the program for the 2018- 19 season and helped the program get the jump start onto a successful year that resulted in nine victories and exciting play match-in and match-out.
"There are levels of coming out of your comfort zone and then there was joining a team like this," Althoff stated about the foundation the upperclassman laid during year one. "I never played on a team that started with the blank slate."
During the inaugural season in 2018, the Falcons captured just two set victories, despite the constant effort. They never lost focus or the drive for the game, even without the wins. Season one ended with an 0-26 record, but they were still optimistic about what the future would hold for the program.
Head coach Curtis Madson and graduate assistant coach Dylan Berry spent countless hours recruiting and brought in five freshmen that all came from very established volleyball programs from all over the United States. Althoff, Muff and Turner Fuhrer (Kenosha, Wisconsin) all played on the same club team during high school, so when they all committed to Concordia Wisconsin, the trio was excited for the opportunity to continue playing together once again.
The coaching staff also brought in Ryan Hoefs (Greendale, Wisconsin) and Cody Sciabica (Henderson, Nevada) to complete the freshmen class and bring a new dynamic to the lineup. In all, eight players from the original season also returned for year two with the team.
Muff was the first to commit from the Kenosha, Wisconsin freshmen and kept pushing for Althoff to follow him, subtly making comments along the way.
"I would drop hints to him during our club matches about CUW. When you get to play with James for so long, you don't want to lose him as a teammate, so I kept working on him to join me. Once he did, that is when I got pumped for college volleyball."
Year two for the team began with a bang, clinching the program's first victory, with a 3-0 win over North Park in the season opener. It checked off the first of many goals throughout the season.
Head coach Curtis Madson never doubted the team's potential and continued to push them on and off the court. Althoff describes the program's mentor in one word, intense.
Korman agrees, saying, "Coach knows what we are capable of and pushes us to our highest potential. He engrained in us that volleyball is a point-by-point game and no point can affect the last." The team put all of their faith into the head coach that he could help them succeed and be the best player and teammate on the court. Madson is a huge motivator for the team, as Muff explained, "I have never had a coach like him care so much about a team like he does."
With Madson holding the players accountable, the team atmosphere has grown exponentially from the first team meeting to today. Making the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference Tournament was a goal and the wheels were set in motion to check off that on the list of to-dos following a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over then-ranked No. 13 MSOE, who is also a league foe. The win was the first over a conference and nationally ranked opponent.
"Coach has been our ride or die; he has always had our back and never lost faith in us," Althoff expressed. "He understood how bad we wanted to win and keep winning. Teams will want to play us next year and we never thought that would happen so soon. It just shows how much we have changed in that one year together."
The Falcons have spent hours together on buses, in the dining hall and on the court; building a family that is unique. This past year they began a new Ultimate Falcon award that is unlike any other. The winner, voted on by the team itself, receives for a week customized WWE belt that has pictures engraved in from the inaugural season.
"Many teams reach a peak after a certain point, where the same thing happens every season," Korman said. "With us, being so new, we have the opportunity to shock some teams and the school with what we can do."
Men's Volleyball is one of the newest programs on campus and that brings excitement for what lies ahead, knowing the road is long and filled with future successes. "In the two years we have been a team, we have done things the program never imagined and we kept our minds open and there is nothing stopping us now," Korman expressed.
The biggest thing when entering a new program is the unknown, but those thoughts are quickly dissipating as the foundation is laid brick by brick. Those on the roster and those entering for the 2020 season are trusting the process and what comes with a younger program. The foundation is complete and now it is just a matter of how nice a place the Falcons want to build as they strive for perfection on and off the court.