Every year, high school seniors across the country spend a tremendous amount of time deciding what college to attend the next fall. Those who wish to play sports at the collegiate level, as well as their parents, often pour an exorbitant amount of time into their respective sports, receiving scholarships only after years upon years of commitment.
However, that is not always the case.
Alex Sivak is a basketball player, and a good one at that. Tall, coordinated and competitive, he was able to carve out a solid hoops career at South Forsyth with the War Eagles—winning the award for Most Outstanding Teammate this past season.
Sivak had never played organized volleyball prior to this spring, and with no varsity team at South, there weren’t many reasons to consider doing so. It wasn’t until a recent church event, one that included a beach volleyball tournament, when he came to an important realization.
A lot has changed since that day, and it’s happened very quickly.
Sivak’s team won that church tournament, and it didn’t take long for him to immerse himself in the sport. With the help of several students and South girls’ volleyball coach Kelly Wren, he launched a boys’ club team.
This group, which was inexperienced even by club standards, was comprised of four seniors and a smattering of juniors and sophomores who were either recruited or discovered the program by word of mouth. Mid-way through their schedule—which normally included a game every Wednesday or Thursday—South played a tournament at Johns Creek, and Emmanuel College’s head coach Adam Martel, who led his squad to an 18-12 record in 2014, was in attendance.
South didn’t fare well that day, but Sivak made a strong impression. Martel pulled Sivak aside to talk and eventually offered the 18-year-old—someone who had only been a part of a volleyball team for two weeks—a college scholarship.
Before this conversation, Sivak had never even heard of Emmanuel.
"I didn’t know anything about the school. At the time I was considering going to Kennesaw State," he said.
Not long after their original correspondence, Martel invited Sivak to Emmanuel and introduced him to most of the volleyball team. The coach showed him their new gym, and explained all the perks of becoming a Saint, which includes travelling to California for a week.
Martel had Sivak’s interest.
That meeting was just a couple weeks ago. On Thursday, Sivak came to his decision and put pen to paper. Next school year, he will be a Saint.
"It’s been a really big deal for me, since I’m so new to the sport," Sivak said. "My parents supported me. They thought it was really exciting. They haven’t really seen much of me playing, but they want me to take that opportunity because they know how much I enjoy it."
With his decision made, Sivak now looks ahead to the upcoming season. The competition in the NAIA will be considerably tougher than in high school, and since he remains extremely raw, a lot of training lies ahead.
"I know I have some work to do," he said. "Seeing how athletic the team is makes me want to get better. It gave me some more motivation."
Given how quickly Sivak adapted to the sport, preparing for the next level shouldn’t be too difficult.