Volleyball Team Ready for Second Season

Tommy Thomas’ goal in his first year as the women’s volleyball coach at Virginia Peninsula Community College is to bring in student-athletes. He’s off to a good start.

Last year, which was the first season the College had a women’s intercollegiate volleyball program, the Gators often had fewer than 10 players dressing out for games. He has 11 on his roster so far.

“I typically have 15. My goal is to have 15-20 kids,” said Thomas, who comes to VPCC after 23 years as the girls’ volleyball coach at Peninsula Catholic High School, where he earned four state titles.

Those 11 players range in experience from those who have participated on club teams to those trying volleyball for the first time. He said it’s a good group around which to build a program.

The season gets underway Sept. 7 with a match at Mid-Atlantic Christian University in Elizabeth City, N.C. The Gators are scheduled to play a home-and-home series with Cheney University, one tri-match, three club invitationals and the New South Athletic Conference tournament.

“It’s a good challenge for us right now,” Thomas said. “The club teams will be fairly strong.”

Thomas, CEO and owner of Coastal Hampton Sportsplex in Newport News, was looking for a new job after a long and distinguished career at Peninsula Catholic. He knows VPCC athletics director Chris Moore, who reached out to Thomas about the position with the Gators.

“It’s a new beginning,” Thomas said. “I can build a program.”

He started the program at Christchurch School on the Middle Peninsula. The year before he took over at Peninsula Catholic, the team went 1-18. They were .500 his first year and reached the state final four his last 15 years with the Knights. At Coastal Hampton Roads, he started with one club team 17 years ago and now has 14.

“My goal at VPCC is get the girls program built,” he said.

He just needs kids, and he wants to target those who might not have the opportunity, talent or resources to go straight from high school to a four-year institution. There are a lot of those on the Peninsula, he said.

“This is their next steppingstone if they want to go to a four-year program,” he said of VPCC. “We can get their grades and their finances all squared away and get them into a four-year program. I want to be that next opportunity for them to get to a four-year program.”

He noted VPCC does a good job of that in its other sports programs.

“I think that’s what all those coaches are looking to do,” he said.

For his first season, Thomas said success would be a .500 season. He said there’s no reason the Gators can’t become a contender on a national scale.

“Richard Bland just won a national championship,” he said of the community college in Petersburg.

The Gators practice at Coastal Hampton Roads, but their home matches will be at Heritage High School in Newport News.

Here is their schedule: Sept. 7: at Mid-Atlantic Christian University, 6 p.m.; Sept. 9: Tri-match at Bryant & Stratton vs. Pitt and BSC; 11 a.m.; Sept. 28: at home, vs. Cheney University, 7 p.m.; Oct. 19: at Cheney University; Nov. 4: at JMU club invitational; Nov. 11: at East Carolina University club invitational; Nov. 18: at ODU club invitational; TBD: New South Athletic Conference tournament at VPCC.

For more on VPCC, go to www.vpcc.edu.