Freshman captain leads volleyball team on court

by Beacon Staff • February 18, 2009

During the men's volleyball team's first match last month, the team looked to an unlikely source for leadership in the clutch: freshman Steve Selnick. Despite his short collegiate career, the mix of talent and leadership he displayed led Head Coach Craig LeTourneau to appoint him to captain of the team.

"Everybody's questioning in their minds 'Are we ready? are we ready?" LeTourneau said. "He kept telling them 'We can play with this team, we can play with this team.' He just kept a level head. He was definitely nervous because it was the first match, but you know he'd been there.he just calmed everybody down."

That's why LeTourneau selected Selnick as captain. The coach forgot to tell Selnick the news himslf, and Selnick instead ultimately found out he had received the honor in a decidedly roundabout fashion.

"One of the guys who did the interviews for iThe Beaconi sent me an e-mail, and one of the questions was 'How does it feel to be Emerson [men's volleyball's] first captain?'" the broadcast journalism major said. "So I called up [Head Coach] Craig [LeTourneau] and said, 'So I'm captain now I guess?' and he went, 'Oh yeah, I meant to tell you that, you have the most experience, I'm just going to throw it at you.'"

In addition to playing all four years of high school, Selnick played three years of club volleyball. He received a wealth of honors during his high school career. He was captain of both his club team and his high school team during his senior year, during which he was chosen as a first-team all-conference selection and named to the Connecticut All-State team. His club team, the Connecticut Juniors, participated in the 2007 Junior Olympics in the under-17 category.

It is something of an anomaly for an athlete to receive captaincy their freshman year, especially at the college level. Coordinator of Athletic Operations Roger Crosley, who has been employed by Emerson since 2003, said in an e-mail he had not heard of a freshman captain at Emerson before.

Selnick said he is proud to receive such a rare honor.

"Coming in as a freshman and being named the captain, I didn't think it was going to happen personally, and it was really humbling to think about," he said. "I'm really honored I've been considered for that."

Because this is the program's first year, LeTourneau had some additional leeway in deciding who to name captain.

"They're all in the same boat with regards to this being the first year playing here," he said. "It's not like 'He's a freshman captain and we have seniors who've been playing here four years,' it's just a combo of the fact that it's a first year program, and he's a natural leader."

The other members of the team were not upset by Selnick's captaincy despite his freshman status. Rather, they agreed that he was a natural fit for the position.

"No one was like, 'Oh how can Steve be the captain, he's only a freshman,' nobody thought of it like that," said sophomore film production major Dean Dimitruk. "He was the most pro-active out of any of us.he seemed like a very obvious choice."

Selnick plays both the setter and outside hitter positions, Dimitruk said. Selnick's knowledge of the game gives him a good idea of how to play every position on the court.

"Potentially he has the best understanding of the game out of anyone [on the team], he's definitely one of the best in that category," Dimitruk said. "I think he has a good grasp on how to play every position."

Some of the members of the team's 12-man roster have prior experience with the sport, but some have never played before this year. LeTourneau said Selnick is a valuable asset when it comes to working with the inexperienced players.

"It's definitely nice to have him on the court, in practice and in matches, because when things are going the wrong way he can step in on the court and get them all settled in," he said. "[Selnick will] remind everybody where they belong and what they're supposed to be doing, and say, 'It's not the end of the world if we give up four points in a row,' and stuff like that."