TJ Vorva, a 2015 Sandburg graduate, is the new men’s volleyball coach at Fontbonne University near St. Louis. Supplied photo

TJ Vorva, a 2015 Sandburg graduate, is the new men’s volleyball coach at Fontbonne University near St. Louis. Supplied photo

Sandburg alum TJ Vorva named men’s volleyball head coach at Fontbonne

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By Mike Walsh
Correspondent

The Fontbonne men’s volleyball program has played an integral role in the life of TJ Vorva for the last eight years.

Vorva played four seasons for the Griffins and later served as an assistant coach.

Now, it’s his program. The 2015 Sandburg graduate was in May named head coach, replacing Jimmy Sitka.

Sitka had been head coach of both the women’s and men’s programs at Fontbonne, which is in the St. Louis, Missouri, suburb of Clayton. He will remain in charge of the women’s program.

“I’m pretty pumped,” Vorva said. “[Running a program] is a daunting task to have all the planning that goes into it and there are a lot of things that go into it.”

The Griffins were 14-11 overall and 4-4 in the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League in 2023.

At Fontbonne, Vorva played the right side from 2015-19. In 2020, he landed a fulltime job in the St. Louis area before rejoining the Griffins as an assistant in 2021.

Along with his coaching at Fontbonne, Vorva also has experience coaching club volleyball with the High Performance 18U second team.

Vorva acknowledged the challenge that comes with the multiple duties of being a head coach, from coaching to marketing the program to getting spectators into and out of the gym safely on game days to making sure the team’s film equipment is functional. But he believes he is well-prepared.

“On the volleyball side, once we get through the first two points of a game, it becomes just volleyball again,” he said. “But with the recruiting, fundraising, travel and schedule-making, that is all different than what a club coach would experience.”

Helping him ease into the role is the wealth of information he has gathered during his years as a player and assistant coach.

“There are quite a few coaches over the years who I’ve met,” Vorva said. “These are high-level coaches, and I’ve taken a little bit from everyone I’ve had and put that into my plan.

Vorva said he saw first-hand the impact of coaching during the turnaround of the men’s program in 2021.

“We won the conference in the regular season and in the playoffs,” he said. “We went from the bottom of the conference to where we are now, which is fighting for the conference championship year in and year out.”

The Griffins are scheduled to begin the 2024 campaign against Dominican (Illinois) in St. Louis on Jan. 24. Vorva is looking forward to that day.

“For sure,” Vorva said. “We have a strong alumni program, and with the backing of the alumni that will put more pressure to succeed. But the support is already there and we can focus on putting out the best product that we can.

“Once the game starts, I’m responsible for how the product looks and seeing what that product you envision on the court will be. Those will be the biggest things on that first game day, for sure.”

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