Starting in the spring of 2014, Bowdoin’s club volleyball team will no longer be co-ed. As a result of the change, current team members Erin McKissick ’16, Sophie Sawyers ’16 and Maggie Seymour ’16 will have to start their own female team next year.  

According to McKissick, the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF) has traditionally had separate teams for men and women. 

The New England region is the only one that has allowed co-ed teams. However, Rule 3.1.4 of the NCVF’s Governance Rules states that, “A women’s team roster may not include men and a men’s roster may not include women. No women players are allowed to compete as a player on a men’s team, and no men are allowed to compete as a player on a women’s team.”

Josh Magid, Commissioner of the New England Collegiate Volleyball League (NECVL) wrote in an email to the three female members of the club volleyball team that he considered making the change effective immediately last year, but the NECVL ultimately decided to wait until the end of this season to enact their new adherence to the rules.

“For several years we have been breaking the rules by allowing women to compete in our men’s league,” Migid wrote. “The bottom line is that we don’t really have a choice and need to comply with the rules that are in place nationally.” 

This leaves the trio of first years with the task of forming their own team for next season, a somewhat bittersweet undertaking. 

“I think we were upset when we first found out,” said Sawyers. “We got to know the guys; we adjusted to playing on a guys’ net, which is higher, so that’s frustrating. But I also think that starting a women’s team will be good because I think that there are a lot of girls here that would play if it was a women’s team.” 

Seymour also expressed disappointment with the NECVL’s recent decision to adhere to the NCVF’s gender rules. However, she also acknowledged that “playing with the guys is a different game.” 

The faster speed of the men’s game and the high level of physicality were challenging for the female volleyball players, but all three women said they would miss the men’s game next year. 

The three affected athletes were also frustrated to find out about the change relatively late in the spring season. While the email from Magid indicated that the decision had been made and communicated after the fall NECVL meeting, the news did not reach them until recently. 

McKissick said that one of the most pressing questions that needed to be answered was how they were going to run the team. As the future veterans of the women’s team, responsibility for both teaching and coaching will inevitably fall on them. While both McKissick and Sawyers played varsity volleyball in high school, the prospect of being player-coaches is somewhat daunting.

“We had varsity players come to our practices, and we’re trying to coordinate with the guys’ team,” said McKissick. 

“We will still be having team dinners,” said Seymour, “It will be heart-wrenching, but we’ll make it through.”