Slippery grass, high winds and heavy rain were all obstacles that the Springfield College men’s volleyball team faced when they took on the Rally Hill challenge on Tuesday afternoon.
But the two-time defending Division-III National Champions demonstrated their hard work, determination and team camaraderie for the duration of the rigorous conditioning circuit proposed to them by their head coach Charlie Sullivan.
From the first “On your mark, get set, go!” call to the last one, 20 players and two coaches hustled up and down the hill together despite the less than favorable conditions.
The Rally Hill conditioning challenge has been a tradition of Sullivan’s ever since he first started coaching at Springfield College in 1999. Rally Hill, which is located between Alumni Hall and the Richard B. Flynn Campus Union, is the hill that Sullivan chose.
The players are separated into two groups, Group A and B, and are expected to run from the manhole at the bottom of the hill, to the brown wooden fence at the top in 12 seconds, return to the bottom within 28 seconds, and then they have the remainder of the minute to rest, before repeating this a total of 25 times.
Although volleyball is not necessarily a sport that is all about conditioning, Sullivan’s plan for the challenge is less about being in good, physical shape and more about being mentally strong.
“I started this when I began coaching at Springfield and it has grown into this great tradition,” said Sullivan. “I like this because it gives me a good idea of the type of team that I will be working with this year.”
Sullivan, who ran the challenge with the team, successfully completed all 25 of the segments.
“Coach Sullivan running it with us shows how much Rally Hill means to him and how important of a tradition it is for our program,” said Ryan Quesenberry, a junior right-side from Kingsville, Md. “It is really awesome how he does it with us.”
As much as the Rally Hill challenge is about physical conditioning and toughness, it is the team-building aspect of the event that contributes the most to the success of Springfield College men’s volleyball.
“Rally Hill represents so many things for this team, especially completing it. It takes physical and mental strength and it absolutely helps to have your teammates that you are about to take an amazing journey with by your side,” stated Nick Ferry, a senior libero.
“After all the preparation we put in for the hill we knew that we were ready to take it on. If we had a little bump, like a player getting sick, we knew that we would get through it as a team and do whatever it took to get the entire team up that hill 25 times.”