Brotherhood and Volleyball

Posted: April 18, 2013 at 5:00 am, Last Updated: April 19, 2013 at 7:03 am

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By Frances Womble

Shaun, left, and Pat Sibley are brothers and teammates on Mason's men's volleyball squad. Photo by Carl Beyers

Shaun, left, and Pat Sibley are brothers and teammates on Mason’s men’s volleyball squad. Photo by Craig P. Beyers

Sibling rivalry is common among brothers, but Shaun and Pat Sibley tell a different story.  Although they are not immune to rivalry, they learned to put their competitiveness aside, as both brothers play the middle blocker position for Mason’s men’s volleyball team.

“Our family is very competitive, but Pat and I are very supportive of each other,” says Shaun, 23, a senior majoring in accounting. “Being able to play with my brother is very cool, and we are lucky to get to experience that.”

The two have practiced their dynamic for years. In high school, given his stature of six feet and nine inches, Shaun was a natural at basketball.

“I wanted to go out for a spring sport, and some of my basketball friends were going out for volleyball.  It seemed like my height would help me out there, too.”

Pat, 20, a junior majoring in finance, is six feet and seven inches tall and followed in his older brother’s footsteps when he entered high school.

Both brothers stuck with volleyball, and their team travelled to the state championships in their home state of Massachusetts when Shaun was a junior and Pat was a sophomore. They returned to the state championships the following year and won.

Pat Sibley at a recent game against Penn State. Photo by Craig P. Beyers

Pat Sibley at a recent game against Penn State. Photo by Craig P. Beyers

After high school, Shaun visited several schools that participated in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA), but Mason stood out.

“There was a great sense of team cohesiveness and competitiveness,” he says. “I knew right away this was the school for me.”

When Pat graduated from high school, he began college at a different EIVA school.

“The fit just wasn’t right,” Pat says. “Shaun raved about the team here. He just couldn’t say enough good things, so I decided to make the change.”

Shaun reached out to men’s volleyball head coach Fred Chao, and the transfer paperwork was completed a week later.

“It was definitely the right decision,” says Pat.

Pat had to sit out his first season on the team, and Shaun sat out last season after knee injuries requiring surgery. Because of that, this is their first year playing together at Mason.

The regular season has only one game left, but with a conference record of 10-3 and overall record of 14-11, the team has secured a seat in EIVA’s tournament, along with Penn State, Princeton and Harvard. The brothers are hoping to bring out a win for Mason, something that has not happened since 1986.

“Penn State has won this thing the last 14 years,” Pat says. “[Mason] hasn’t beat Penn State in a game since 2008. It’s going to be hard.”

“At the same time, we played them on March 30, and that was a good game,” Shaun adds.

In order to win a volleyball match, a team must win three out of five games of 25 points. The most recent match with Penn State went all five games.

On the court, Pat and Shaun say they work just as closely with their team as they do with each other.

Coach Chao agrees.

“Within the team, Shaun and Pat’s relationship with each other appears to be the same as each of their relationships with their other teammates,” Chao says. “I think this is a strong testament to the brotherhood of the team.”

Chao also credits the duo’s skills as part of the team’s success.

“The Sibleys’ contributions have been significant,” he says. “Pat’s dynamic offense is a force to be reckoned with, while Shaun’s overall experience and stability have been invaluable.”

With Shaun’s volleyball playing days dwindling, he is trying to make the season as memorable as possible.

“We’ve all worked really hard to get to this position, and this is very important to me,” he says. “Going forward with volleyball isn’t for me. My body is pretty beat up. I have an accounting job lined up in Bethesda (Md.) after I graduate, so I’ll be going into the business world.”

Pat has another year to go at Mason and is more up in the air about his future.

“I hope I’ll be able to play for a while,” he says. “But playing with Shaun has made the game a little more fun and a little more intensive.”

The team will play against Princeton in New Jersey on April 20 for the season’s last game before the EIVA semifinals.

Write to Robin Herron at rherron@gmu.edu

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