Love of the game

In the face of defeat, great players stand tall and progress forward.

Athletes often find that volleyball, like other sports, promotes growth with losses, and serves as a learning experience.

Keeping his head held high and moving forward, sophomore Charlie Schmittdiel leads the Santa Monica College men's volleyball team, despite their recent struggles.

Schmittdiel started playing volleyball his sophomore year in high school, after first not making the team his freshmen year.

With the encouragement of a friend, along with University of California, Los Angeles hall of fame player, Denny Cline, Schmittdiel was determined to make the team and one day win a championship.

Practicing every day and going to tournaments, Schmittdiel was constantly working on moving forward alongside his teammates.

"We're striving to get better; the season is not over," said Schmittdiel. "We still have five games. Let's try to make the best of it."

Having a history of success, it is no surprise that Schmittdiel now leads the Corsairs, providing nonstop hustle and energy for the team amid a rough season.

Having won the California Interscholastic Federation championship with Santa Monica High School prior to attending SMC, he said he feels a definite difference between the teams.

"Everyone is not the same, of course," said Schmittdiel. "Those guys in high school I was with every day in school. The group of guys I have right now are my closest friends. Everyone has different qualities."

In the face of adversity, Schmittdiel and the rest of the Corsairs tried not to let it get the best of them.

"The funny thing is, it isn't affecting our team that much," said Schmittdiel. "We're still striving to get better, and are working on bringing the energy we have during practice into our games."

He suggested that the Corsairs have come up short multiple times this season due to carelessness and mental mistakes.

"Overthinking was definitely our biggest downfall," said Schmittdiel. "Just taking ourselves out of the game. We'd hit adversity, take one punch, then get knocked. It was like self-destruction; we were beating ourselves."

Having narrowly lost to Long Beach City College, one of the top teams in the Western State Conference, Schmittdiel believed it was a marker upon which to build.

"I see it as progress, but I don't think we should be hung up about it," he said. "We played great. We played a really good team, but we shouldn't stop at 'we took Long Beach to game five.' I don't want that to be the highlight of the season."

With his junior college eligibility winding down, Schmittdiel said he is planning on transferring and would like to continue to play volleyball. Although he does not have a specific preference, he is talking to a few schools, some Division I and some Division II.

"I'm not really thinking about it right now, but if I get to play at the next level after college, I'd be really blessed," Schmittdiel said. "I would love to continue after college. But right now, I'm just thinking of what I have right now, and how I can improve."

Schmittdiel expressed his hopes to make it professionally following college.

"I would like to play in Argentina at the pro level," said Schmittdiel. "It sounds weird, but I've heard great things about them. They take care of their players. If not there, then Spain and Italy."