On Feb. 5, volleyball players Luke Turner ‘20 and Aidan Peters ‘20 signed their letters of intent to Stanford University. Turner, an outside hitter, and Peters, an opposite and outside hitter, led the Cubs to a strong 9-2 record, which placed the school as a top-25 team in the nation, according to MaxPreps.
After the spring cancellation of the 2019 CIF playoffs because of COVID-19, the next step for Turner and Peters was to compete at the collegiate level. Although Stanford came off a poor season with a record of 6-11, both Peters and Turner knew that it was the school for them.
Peters said, “I chose Stanford because of its unique combination of academics and athletics.”
He added, “It is the only school in the world that competes at the highest athletic level while also hosting world class academics.”
Turner had very personal reasons for choosing Stanford, saying, “My dad was a Stanford football player, and I’ve grown up going to football games and looking up to the school. I set a goal in middle school to play volleyball at Stanford, and it was a dream come true to get my offer last year.”
Although COVID-19 proved to be a hindrance for spring sports seasons, neither Turner nor Peters were prepared for what Stanford’s president and athletic director announced on the morning of Jul. 8: the permanent discontinuation of 11 sports, including men’s volleyball.
Turner and Peters were crushed when they heard the news.
Turner reflected, “Playing volleyball at Stanford has been a lifelong dream of mine, and right when I got there, it was ripped away from me.”
Peters, who received the news from his teammate, said, “I was in disbelief. The cancellation of the men’s volleyball program was completely out of nowhere and blindsided all of the athletes, coaches and other faculty members in the Stanford men’s volleyball community.”
Quickly following the news, one of Stanford’s players, Kupono Browne, launched an online petition to help save the program. In less than a week, it received more than 35,000 signatures, and with the help of Stanford alumni, raised more than 10 million dollars.
The creation of an online petition paved the way for several other social media responses to the news. On Instagram, the account @savestandfordmvb was created and has more than 3,000 followers. The hashtag “#NextStartsWhenYouReinstateOurProgram,” a twist on the school’s athletic motto of the 2019 season, trended on both Twitter and Instagram. And on Aug. 26, The New York Times published an article about the implication of the end of the Stanford program. It hypothesized that many other programs will soon follow Stanford’s footsteps and terminate their programs.
Despite the devastating news, this is not the end of athletics for the players, all of whom are allowed to keep their scholarships. For the 2021-2022 school year, Stanford will turn their team into a club sport and participate in tournaments throughout the country. And in the meantime, Turner noted that he might try to walk-on as the kicker for the school’s football team.
Turner and Peters are faced with a major decision: stay and sacrifice their collegiate career for a prestigious academic career, or enter the transfer portal and look to continue their volleyball career somewhere else. As of now, the two have enrolled for the fall semester and will try to make their decision around spring time.