Benson’s volleyball career back from brink

Michael Thompson, Contributing Writer

For junior Nick Benson, volleyball is a family affair. As a child, Benson’s aunt, a former Division II player, coached volleyball at a local high school near his hometown of Litchfield Park, Arizona. It was there that he discovered the sport.

“My younger sister, younger brother and I would go play during their practices,” Benson said. “We all fell in love with the game.”

From there, Benson intensely pursued his new passion. He began his official volleyball career in seventh grade, joining the local club his sister played in. Benson continued to play all four years in high school, starring as the team’s captain in three of them. He was named an All-State playertwice, and reached the state championship before committing to NYU.

Benson’s success continued into his first year of college play, where he established himself as a force on the court. Starting 20 games in the 2012-2013 season, Benson led the team in service aces and finished second in assists, kills and total points.

Benson’s volleyball career suffered a setback during his sophomore year.

“I was academically ineligible,” Benson said. “I obviously wasn’t taking care of what I was supposed to take care of, and it cost not only me, but the whole team.”

Distraught over a lost opportunity, Benson focused and was determined to return to the volleyball team his junior season.

“This is the hardest I’ve worked in the classroom, on the court and in the weight room,” Benson said.

With his grades back in order and a new level of dedication, he is back where he belongs — the volleyball court. The season is still relatively young, but statistically, Benson is playing better than he ever has. His key stats are noticeably better this season — he leads the team with 4.49 points per set.

Head Coach Jose Pina and Assistant Coaches Karl France and Ryan Casey are important mentors in his life.

“None of us would hesitate to go to Jose or Karl with an issue that we have, volleyball-related or not,” Benson said. “You learn this even more as you get older. They really do care about us.”

The future is bright for Benson. He decided to major in mathematics and plans to one day be an actuary. As for volleyball, Benson thinks it’ll remain a lifelong interest.

“I’ll definitely still be playing volleyball,” Benson said. “That’s what is great about volleyball. You can play forever.”

Benson, NYU’s athlete of the week, will look to help the Violets in their next match on March 4 against Stevens Institute of Technology.

A version of this article appeared in the March 3 print edition. Email Michael Thompson at [email protected].