Bryan College in Dayton previously had a team, but chose to discontinue the program this year.
Cumberland joins King and Lincoln Memorial as the only three schools to offer men’s volleyball within Tennessee. The school will be the only to offer the program in Middle Tennessee.
Recently named men’s volleyball coach Scott Barbe hopes to use this to draw recruits to the university.
“My goal is to, first and foremost, reach out to any Tennessee athletes who would be interested,” said Barbe. “I’m hoping to build a relationship with all of the local volleyball clubs who either have boy’s volleyball or are starting to create it, as well.”
Of particular interest is the C2 Attack boy’s program in Nashville, started by Cullum Miller, a former club player at the University of Tennessee who also played professional beach volleyball.
C2 Attack has had several players ranked nationally in their age divisions, including Mason Chamber, a student at Wilson Central High School who was ranked fourth in the U.S. 18-and-under division last summer.
“I met Cullum last week,” said Barbe. “I went over there and watched a practice and talked to several of the young boys over there. I’ve also reached out to some of the boys who played at C2 who go to Tennessee Technological [University] now.”
Barbe came to Cumberland with more than 20 years of experience in the sport. He started out playing beach volleyball in high school and liked it enough to pursue coaching, which soon became his full-time job.
“While I was getting my master’s degree, I started coaching,” said Barbe. “I started at the club level, moved into high school. I’ve coached all levels, freshman, junior varsity, varsity, and I coached college up in Michigan.”
In 2007, Barbe created his own volleyball club, Dynasty, in Michigan, which eventually grew to about 25 teams. Barbe left the club in 2013 to move to Florida to be with his grandparents, where he became the head coach at Ave Maria University.
In 2016, Barbe left Ave Maria to better help his grandparents in the last year of their lives.
A friend who coached softball at Ave Maria put Cumberland’s new men’s program on Barbe’s radar.
“He told me about the university and some background on it,” said Barbe. “I saw that they were starting the men’s program and it interested me because with creating the club that I had, I’ve always kind of had a drive to renew programs. I’ve been to a lot of programs that were bad, and I’ve been able to turn that around. So, coming to Cumberland, I thought that was a good fit, because I would get to kind of create a program.”
Cumberland’s men’s team will have its work cut out in its inaugural year with several established teams looking to come together with Cumberland to form a new NAIA conference. Teams like Cincinnati Christian University and Campbellsville University have a couple of years head start on Cumberland, and two-time NAIA national champions Missouri-Baptist University has expressed interest in joining the new conference.
“The goal always is that we want to compete and do well as a team,” said Barbe. “I think for the first couple of years it’s going to be a large growing phase for us. I think that as we get more established, get more interest, that we’ll have a high level of competition in the future.”