Younger brothers are often picked on until they reach a size that allows them to finally retaliate.
For the 6-foot-9 Matt Seifert of the Penn State men’s volleyball team, it seems hard to believe that there was someone bigger than he was to pick on him.
Matt’s older brother Elliot, now 29, was a 312-pound offensive lineman at Temple and for the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League.
According to Matt, he paid the price of being the “little” brother.
“Growing up, it was me getting whooped on every night,” Matt said.
But following the footsteps of an athletic older brother has had a direct impact on Matt, an impact that is now becoming apparent on the court at Penn State.
“[Elliot] played football in college, and being the age that I was when he was going through it and seeing how he handled it, it helped me realize what I might have to do to get there,” Matt said. “Now that I am here, seeing that really helped for sure.”
The middle hitter Seifert has 58 kills this year, which is fourth on the team, and had a breakout match last Friday, pounding a team-high 10 kills in a dominating sweep of Saint Francis.
Even with his high level of production this year despite redshirting last year, Seifert’s teammates have raved mainly about his work ethic.
“I think he’s one of the hardest workers, you can tell by the way he beats himself up,” setter Taylor Hammond said. “He constantly wants to be better, and I think that rubs off on other people. He’s focused on what he needs to do, and that forces the next person to make sure they get better, too.”
From the coach’s perspective, Mark Pavlik is also impressed with Seifert’s progress and says he’s on his way to a great career. On and off the court, he says, Seifert is learning to become a better volleyball player.
“In training, whether it’s strength and conditioning, nutrition or volleyball skills, it helps him compete better,” Pavlik said. “He’s very sincere about his effort, and this is what we’re going to see from him.”
Along with Seifert, Hammond also took a redshirt in 2012, allowing the two to share the practice gym and maximize reps prior to their starting roles this year.
For the both of them, they are progressing together and have great chemistry, which has become evident in the gym.
“Most of the building came last year, learning to play with each other,” Hammond said. “The good connection we have is really showing this year, I know where he’s going to be and he knows where I’m going to set him.”
According to Pavlik, the two players’ work ethics have him believing that the sky is the limit for both players.
“I feel really good about their future. I think we’ll keep them on the team for another week or two,” Pavlik said, laughing.