Andy Bennett, a Goshen College men’s volleyball player, is at a career crossroads.
One option is for Bennett, an accounting senior, to be part of the commencement exercises on May 1. The other is cashing in the extra year of athletic eligibility made possible by the interruption of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Either way, the 2018 Franklin graduate thrives.
If the 6-foot-4, 200-pound middle blocker returns, he’ll do the academic work necessary to pick another minor (probably PR, marketing or communications).
His relative newness as a volleyball player has Bennett excited for the opportunity to continue playing.
“I grew up playing tennis, and one of my teammates at Franklin, Logan Snyder, taught me how to play volleyball as early as my junior year,” Bennett said. “In terms of my knowledge, I started from scratch. I didn’t know anything about the sport.”
Bennett’s ability to not only learn, but excel in the sport eventually earned him the opportunity to play at the NAIA level.
“The original story is that there was a club tournament in Southport my senior year, and the former Goshen College coach was there. He watched one of my games and came over to talk when he was done,” Bennett said. “I didn’t think he was going to play in college, but he’s been great.”
Goshen College men’s volleyball was introduced as a club sport in 2018. The Maple Leafs began playing a full schedule and competing as a varsity sport the following year.
Since he plays for such a young program, Bennett’s name can be found at or near the top of Goshen’s all-time lists in categories such as games played, sets played, total blocks, and blocking assists. . He finished last season ranking first on the team in blocks (98), fourth in aces (12) and fifth in spikes (127) and digs (12).
However, not all of the positive attributes Bennett brings to Maple Leafs men’s volleyball are statistical.
Given a vote on whether or not Bennett should return, Goshen College men’s volleyball coach Lauren Ford would voice an enthusiastic yes.
“I love Andy Bennett,” Ford said. “It’s a partner’s dream. Andy doesn’t take himself too seriously, and that helps him a lot. He doesn’t back down from criticism because he doesn’t take himself seriously.
“I think every team needs a person like that. You need that person to balance you.
Take trash talking, for example. And, yes, it goes on for a lot of men’s matches.
Bennett, a force at net for the Maple Leafs because of his jumping ability, isn’t one of the team’s talents in this particular area.
“Usually I stick to my own during games,” said Bennett, who last week helped the Maple Leafs to a 20-9 season, the second-best winning percentage (69%) in their brief history. “But if someone starts insulting me or one of my teammates, I tend to do more online pranks than insults.”
So is Bennett.
“Personally, I think I take it as seriously as it should be taken,” Bennett said. “I want to keep things light, which is definitely my personality.”