Voelkel’s victories in Vermont
Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 21:04
Sophomore Brian Voelkel has been making a big impression on the court since he began playing ball in a Catamount jersey in 2011.
The 6-foot-6-inch forward from Pleasantville, N.Y. saw great success in his rookie year at Vermont.
In the 2010-2011 season, Voelkel was named the America East Rookie of the Year, earned a spot on the America East All-Rookie Team and was acknowledged on the America East Academic Honor Roll.
The 2011-2012 season hasn’t been much different in the sense of successes. After averaging 4 points, 7 assists and 12 rebounds per contest, Voelkel was named the America East Tournament’s Reggie Lewis Most Outstanding Player and earned a spot on the America East All-Championship Team.
In addition to his personal achievements, the road to the second round of NCAA tournament was paved with the team’s victories.
“Beating Stony Brook and being able to play in the NCAA tournament was just a dream come true,” Voelkel said. “Just to be able to enjoy that success with my teammates and my coaches was a lot of fun.”
After knocking out top-seeded Stony Brook in the America East men’s basketball championship and advancing to the NCAA tournament, Vermont topped Lamar to play in second round action against No. 1 seeded University of North Carolina.
Vermont didn’t beat the odds and was defeated by UNC in the end.
“It was kind of surreal because growing up I’ve always been around basketball, so I was always watching the tournament,” Voelkel said. “It was just so much fun to all be able to live in the moment — [we] realized how lucky we were to be able to get a win against Lamar and then travel to North Carolina.”
The journey to Vermont’s basketball program began at a young age for Voelkel, who has been around the sport for as long as he can remember.
“My dad is a coach, so I’ve always been around basketball, playing with him and playing with my brother,” he said.
When Voelkel finally came up to Vermont, the fit felt right.
“I just loved the people,” he said. “It was definitely just a good fit for me and it made sense, basketball-wise and for me as a person — I fit in with the guys and the community.”
Feeling comfortable with the guys on the team was mediated by the fact that Voelkel entered his rookie year with longtime teammate, guard Sandro Carissimo. Both Voelkel and Carissimo played alongside one another at Iona Prep before coming to Vermont.
“I went to high school with [Carissimo], but we’ve actually been playing since sixth grade,” Voelkel said. “I’ve known him forever and we definitely have a connection. We definitely have good chemistry on the court.”
The chemistry within the team was kept up this season even with the introduction of first-year coach, John Becker. Voelkel praised the efforts of Becker.
“He preaches defense and rebounding, and that is what I try to do,” he said. “It definitely works out well between the two of us because he is all about that. He got the most out of me defensively this year.”
With all the successes of the past two seasons for Voelkel, he hopes that his stay in Vermont continues to follow a similar path.
“[I want to] just get back to the NCAA tournament…If we do make the tournament, hopefully get a better seed so we aren’t playing the North Carolinas of the world,” he said.
As for after college, Voelkel is still looking to be a part of basketball.
“[I hope to] play professionally overseas,” he said. “I hope I will be able to get to travel a little and play ball.”