When outside hitter Colin McClintic was just a freshman, Oswego East’s varsity boys volleyball team only won three games.
It’s something he’s never forgotten.
“It was tough because we’d get on the bus after road games and the coaches would be all mad and the guys would come on the bus with their heads hanging down all sad,” McClintic said. “Slowly we’ve been able to get better each year.”
That includes last season’s 16-16 campaign, the best in school history, and the first time the Wolves didn’t have a losing year.
The team lost eight seniors from that squad, including captains Adam Densberger and Max Benger, but the 6-foot-11 McClintic and fellow senior Isaiah Robinson both return.
With such a change in personnel, the Wolves will be challenged to find a way to win consistently for second-year coach Brian Zerfas. Thankfully, they’ve been blessed with an excellent junior class.
“This group has extremely high expectations for the season but they know they have to learn how to win consistently and do it the right way if they want to achieve those goals,” he said. “How they come together as a team, their approach to practices and how they manage expectations and adversity throughout the season will be a strong indicator of just how much this group can achieve.”
Oswego East’s juniors won back-to-back conference championships as freshmen and a JV squad. They’ll be needed to step in right away.
“They’re so used to winning so they have some cockiness,” McClintic said. “I’m trying to make sure that they don’t get caught in the hype just because they’ve won before. I think we have the talent to have a winning team for the first time."
McClintic, who hadn’t played the game other than in P.E. class prior to freshman year, will play at Lewis next season and has been nominated for the American Volleyball Coaches Association High Schools Seniors All-America watch list.
“We’re excited for the season and the team we think we’re capable of being,” he said. “Playing in club I know alot of the kids we’re going to play against and it’s going to be competitive.”
Jahari Winkfield, Cade Harrison, Collin Harrison, Sam Behnke, Ben Jorgensen and Zeke Rivera are part of the prized junior class and will need to step up right away in order for the Wolves to be successful.
“This is a group of guys that puts power behind the ball and backs it up with a tough net presence,” Zerfas said. “We have multiple hitters with phenomenal vision and shot selection at every position.”
The Wolves are finally poised to challenge for a conference title.
“It is new territory for our program but we are excited and ready for those expectations and are ready to embrace the challenge,” Zerfas said. “More significantly, we talk all the time about leaving a legacy. This group knows they are helping to build a program, not just a winning season. It’s not just about one season to these guys, it is about establishing a winning culture and expectations for Oswego East boys volleyball.”