Junior varsity program helps players excel

by Carlie BealsStaff Writer

There are many students at Simpson College who choose to participate in athletics. Because of the high number of dedicated athletes on Storm teams, a junior varsity program is implemented to allow players to improve their skills, play the game they love, and help introduce them to collegiate athletics. The fall sports teams have two JV programs, volleyball and football. Softball, baseball, men’s and women’s basketball all have JV programs as well.

The women’s JV volleyball squad is very competitive within the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Head volleyball coach Lana Smith realizes the importance of having a JV team within her program.

“We’ve always had a JV program since I’ve been here,” Smith said. “It’s a feeder and developmental program and a great opportunity for participation.”

Sophomore outside hitter Ashley Weiland has been a member of the JV volleyball team for two years and realizes how important it is to her growth as a competitive player.

“If we weren’t able to play JV we wouldn’t get college game time,” Weiland said. “It helps us get the college experience we need.”

Volleyball is unique, in that every IIAC team has a JV program. This allows the JV and varsity teams to play on the same night; the JV playing before the varsity.

“We have a full schedule,” Smith said. “We play with the varsity. It’s a dual-night format.”

Weiland feels that having a JV team is essential to the success of every varsity program.

“It’s a necessity,” Weiland said. “Without a JV program, varsity wouldn’t get any better because we are constantly pushing the varsity.”

Although Smith realizes the importance of a having a JV squad, she says there are certain things that must be present in order for both programs to have success.

“You need to have the staff, enough space, and the time to make it successful,” Smith said.

Weiland points out that although the JV and varsity teams play in different games, they are still very supportive of one another.

“We are one team with two different games,” Weiland said. “JV is always at every varsity game and the varsity players watch as many of our games as they can before going to change for their game.”

Other NCAA divisions, including Division I and Division II, do not have JV teams, but instead red shirt their players in order to better prepare them for the collegiate level. Smith feels that by having a JV program, it corresponds directly with what Simpson is all about.

“We really like to have our students and players graduate within four years,” Smith said. “It also allows for actual game-time experience.”

The Simpson football team has a JV program that produces many varsity players. Tight end coach Nate Seberg acknowledges the importance of having a JV team and the building block format that it produces.

“It’s more common to play JV and then become a varsity starter,” Seberg said. “Almost everyone plays JV.”

Senior linebacker Neil Bontrager is one of many varsity players who fits into this category.

Bontrager was a member of the JV football team his freshman year, and is currently a starter for the varsity team.

“It’s hard to adjust your freshman year,” Bontrager said. “Getting out there and doing it on the field really helps.”

Seberg agrees that the JV program is a positive thing for any team.

“It gives players a chance to play other people than the starters,” Seberg said. “Players get to practice their own plays and gain experience for next year.”

Bontrager encourages players to take advantage of all the JV playing time they can get, as it will only make them better and improve their skills for next year’s season.

“Do what you can, play as hard as you can,” Bontrager said. “Coaches notice how you play and it helps them get a better feel for next year.”