MISHAWAKA – Bethel Athletic Director Tony Natali is pleased to announce that Jackson Gilbert has been named the first head coach in Men’s Volleyball program history. Gilbert comes to the Pilots from Columbus, Ohio where he served as a coach of the Vanguard Volleyball Club for the previous five seasons.
“We are very excited to launch Men’s Volleyball with naming Jackson Gilbert as our head coach,” stated Natali. “We feel like Men’s Volleyball will be a great addition to all the current sports with an indoor spring sport. Jackson will do a great job of getting this program off the ground. His strong Christ-centered approach, along with him being very well-connected in the volleyball community, makes Jackson a great choice.”
Gilbert hails from Hilliard, Ohio and graduated from North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina in 2020. A standout on the court for the Crusaders, Gilbert was a four-time All-Conference player, including back-to-back First Team honors in 2020 and 2021. He was an Off the Block Fan Choice Player of the Year from 2019-21 and was on the Off the Block Karch Kiraly Watch List in 2018—an award given to the nation’s best outside attacker in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball during the regular season.
Competing in NCAA Division I, Gilbert led the nation in Points per Set, ranked fourth in Aces per Set, sixth in Kills per Set, and 23rd in Blocks per Set in 2021.
“I am big on making every rep count and getting as much as I can out of every drill,” stated Gilbert. “Every time you touch the ball is an opportunity to improve your game. My goal is to develop players that are strong at every aspect of the game and are comfortable being uncomfortable.”
“I want them to be willing to step out of their comfort zone both on and off the court to develop into well-rounded people, unfazed by adversity. Most importantly, I want to help guide their development towards being good stewards of the Lord and strong examples of what a Christian should look like both on and off the court.”
Bethel will compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which offers Men’s Volleyball as an official Championship Sport in the spring season, as well as the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) as an Invitational Sport in the winter season.
Men’s Volleyball began in the NAIA as an Emerging Sport in 1998-99 and upgraded to an official Championship Sport in the NAIA for the 2018-19 season. It is in its third season in its current capacity. At the NCCAA level, there are 13 schools across the nation currently sponsoring the sport at the varsity level.
The Pilots will join Goshen College and Mount Vernon Nazarene University as the only current Crossroads League schools to sponsor Men’s Volleyball. Gilbert will begin recruiting and filling the roster immediately before officially competing in 2022-23. Student-athletes interested in competing in Men’s Volleyball at Bethel can complete and submit a prospective student-athlete questionnaire.