Playing For Something Bigger Than Yourself

Source: Gavin Jordan

Ryan Nelson, from O’Fallon, Illinois, is a sophomore and a Digital Media major at Greenville University. Nelson is on the volleyball team as a defensive specialist. His role on the team is to be the base of the defense and make sure the ball doesn’t hit the ground on their side. Nelson became the first Panther in school history to be honored with the defensive player of the week award in the MCVL (Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League) conference. The day Nelson earned this award, he produced 24 digs and successfully defended 20 of 21 serves from the opposing team. It is safe to say that Nelson plays a key role in the Panther’s defense.

Nelson won defensive player of the week after his outstanding performances against Maranatha Baptist and Fontbonne. Source:

Nelson was first introduced to the game of volleyball in the fifth grade and found a passion for it by seventh grade. Before playing volleyball, Nelson was more into soccer until he got involved in the YMCA club (Young Men’s Christian Association), where they play volleyball for fun. Nelson stated, “When I first started playing volleyball, I hung up the cleats for soccer and began taking volleyball more serious.” Volleyball is a sport that Nelson really loves and plans to play it as long as he can.

Throwback of Nelson focusing on a dig during his high school days. Source: Ryan Nelson

The Greenville Panthers Men’s Volleyball Team’s motto is “Together We Rise,” meaning that they all play together as one team to make sure that it is never just about one person. When there is a great play made by a teammate, they make sure to celebrate with each other. The Panthers never want to leave a teammate behind, so rising together is something that is really valued in the program. Nelson really enjoys being around his teammates and says he experienced some of his favorite moments in his life with the friends he’s made while playing volleyball in high school and college. Playing away games is something that Nelson likes because of the bus trips. These journeys give Nelson the opportunity to have conversations with and get to know each of his teammates even more.

One of Nelson’s biggest accomplishments playing volleyball is being a three-year starter on varsity in high school from his sophomore to senior year. Nelson also accomplished becoming First Team All-Conference and Academic All-Conference. Nelson’s team in high school reached the Elite 8 in the state of Illinois and was a great experience for him personally.

#12 Ryan Nelson (Front, Right). Source:

As a team, the Greenville Panthers hope to reach the postseason as they failed to do so last year. To become the best team the Panthers can possibly be, Nelson feels that there are some big shoes that he is going to have to fill. Nelson believes that he will have to step out of his comfort zone and become a more social player, while being able to discuss issues that are going on within the team and communicate to make sure the team is all on the same page. As a very young team, Nelson wants to speak up more and hopes to teach the younger guys on the team some important lessons. Playing volleyball has much more to it than just playing the sport. Nelson plays volleyball for the Lord and his family. Playing for the Lord makes Nelson an honest and hard working player. Nelson believes that if he works hard and entirely commits himself to the team, God will reward him for his honest work. Playing volleyball is something that makes Nelson’s family happy, so being able to love the game while making his family proud is truly a blessing for him.

Media by Gavin Jordan.


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