Duo Part of Historic First Class of Men’s Club Team at Central Illinois School
LINCOLN – Lincoln College is proud to announce the signing of two athletes from Eisenhower High School in Blue Island to join its historic first class to play men’s volleyball at the college.
LC Men’s Volleyball Coach Mark Tippett is bringing in Lukasz Kupiec and Alec Esparza to play on the inaugural and unique volleyball club team at the private college in Lincoln, just north of Springfield in central Illinois. Both players received all-conference honors at Eisenhower, while Esparza also made the All-Area team, and say they chose Lincoln College to be part of a special experience.
“I chose Lincoln College to be able to play the game I love while still being able to better myself to become the best deaf and hard of hearing special education teacher I can be,” Esparza said.
“I am very pleased to have Alec and Lukas join our program,” Tippett said. “They are both skilled, experienced players who play key positions. Alec impresses me with his passing ability and fearless attitude on defense. He is also a vocal leader on the court, which is a great quality in a libero. Lukas is a very skilled setter with a strong jump serve. He will give us the ability to run a quick offense right away, and, when we need him to swing, I am confident he can be a very effective hitter as well. I am looking forward to coaching these young men and anticipate that they will be big contributors to our team this year.”
Tippett has worked for years to create a men’s team to go along with the women’s volleyball program at LC. The team’s schedule will feature mainly junior varsity and varsity teams from four-year colleges and universities along with open club events at area universities.
This team joins College of DuPage as the only men’s volleyball teams at Illinois two-year schools. There are four NCAA Division II programs and four NAIA programs in Illinois that also have men’s volleyball. But it’s a sport increasing in popularity, as the number of high school programs offering men’s volleyball has grown from 73 in 1992 to nearly 200 now.
Tippett expects to focus his recruiting efforts on the Chicagoland and St. Louis metro areas, which will help provide new exposure for Lincoln College in those regions. LC was established in 1865 to meet higher education needs in central Illinois, with ground broken on the campus’ first building just six days after President Lincoln’s birthday. The college offers 18 men’s and women’s varsity sports in competing at the NJCAA Division II level, as a member of the Midwest Athletic Conference (MWAC).