EMU men’s volleyball is looking to rebuild, and senior Travis Abele (Mechanicsville, Va./Lee-Davis) is a big part of that process. After graduating five of their seven starters last year, the remaining upperclassmen on the team stepped up.
“I’ve accepted that kind of my legacy of this season being development for younger kids, leaving a good footprint and a good culture for our program moving forward,” Travis said.
He views this as a multi-faceted role.
“Showing them how it’s done on the court and off the court to make them successful not just on the court, but also in the classroom or in the community as well.”
Last week, much like he’s done all season, Travis did a bit of everything. He earned eight kills, three service aces and six digs in Saturday's sweep of Immaculata - EMU’s first win of the season.
“It was nice, mainly for the young guys,” Travis said. “I wanted them to experience what it felt like to get that chip off their shoulder.”
For the past two seasons, EMU men’s volleyball was a nationally ranked team.
“It’s been tough to adapt to this losing...but we’ve all kept our heads up, and we’re taking a lot from the losses, as we would if they were wins.”
For Travis, the personal development of his teammates is just as important as winning games.
“At the end of each game, I’m looking to see what the team as a whole has done in the areas of the game,” he said. “Seeing the individual growth of the younger ones...that’s been a lot of fun.”
Travis spent his offseason recovering from a knee surgery. Now he’s looking to maintain his health through the end of his final season at EMU.
“I’m constantly getting in the gym, just doing a lot of maintenance work...doing the things I need to off the court to maintain on the court.”
Travis started playing volleyball because his father and uncle did, but it wasn’t his primary sport until recently.
“It became more of a fun, passion sport, rather than a competitive sport, because I was basketball, competitively, the most. Volleyball was kind of my freedom, which slowly turned into a bigger passion in my life.”
He hopes to turn that passion into a career. The last three seasons, he has also worked as an assistant coach for the women’s volleyball team at EMU.
“I would like to continue my coaching career at the collegiate level,” Travis said. “So once the season’s done I’ll be looking into furthering that, looking at possibilities, whether that’s staying here with this program or moving on to another college.”
After weathering a challenging early season schedule heavy on nationally ranked opponents, the volleyball men expect to pick up some momentum over the 11-game Continental Volleyball Conference slate. Travis hopes for a good turnout for the Rowdy Royals game (March 20 against Randolph-Macon) and Senior Recognition (March 30 against Rutgers-Newark).
“We want to show the student body that volleyball is a sport that you can rally around and enjoy a lot of,” he said. “It is a sport that is rapidly growing and the school can take pride in acknowledging that we play for them.”
-- by Elizabeth Nisly, EMU Sports Information Writing Intern