Not Your Average Triple Major, Student Assistant Coach, Sports Info Writer, Club Sports Co-Captain – Meet Alexander Verschoor-Kirss ‘13

Alex charting the game's stats
Alex charting the game's stats

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- While his job for Sports Information requires that he be able to rattle off NESCAC volleyball stats from memory, Alex Verschoor-Kirss has a pretty impressive stat line of his own: 3 majors (Political Science, Religion and Sociology), 2 varsity sports (member of men's diving, and student assistant coach for women's volleyball) and 1 club sport (three year co-captain of club volleyball) all while writing a thesis and serving as a research assistant.

Furthermore, Verschoor-Kirss is a Dean's List Student who was named to the NESCAC All-Academic Men's Swimming & Diving Team in 2010-11. While generally loath to discuss his busy workload, Verschoor-Kirss was gracious enough to share his game-day schedule for October 10th to demonstrate how far one's commitment to being an Eph can be.

Schedule:

8:00 AM -- Wake up/Grab quick Breakfast

8:30 -- Thesis Work

10:30 -- Diving Workout

11:30 -- Quick Lunch with friends

1:10 PM -- REL 401 with Professor Josephson

4:00 -- Pregame Meal at Driscoll

6:00 -- Official Warm-up Starts

7:00 -- GAME TIME!!!!

9:00 -- Postgame Meeting, Tally up Stats

9:30 -- Begin writing Sports Info Article

10:30 – '82 Grill w/ Club Volleyball

12:00 -- Work?

1:30 AM -- Bed

Alex checks the video camera
before the match to make sure
the coaches will have a game
view they can analyze.

Verschoor-Kirss is the first to recognize that his jam-packed schedule walks a fine line between devotion to Williams and insanity. Regarding his decision to take on so much he can only offer the following: "You know, it kind of just happened…I didn't come in here thinking I was going to triple major, but I started taking all these interesting classes and things just kind of snowballed from there." Would he recommend a similar course of study to other students? "Absolutely not. Just do a double major and take a bunch of courses in a third discipline. It's pride more than anything else that's keeping me going at this point, that, and not wanting to quit. I love all my classes but they can be really intense."

As if a difficult course load wasn't enough, a deep-seated passion for athletics brought Verschoor-Kirss to work for Coach Christi Kelsey and the varsity volleyball team as a student assistant. Notes Verschoor-Kirss, "I played volleyball all through high school and joined the club team when I got to Williams. I went to one varsity home match freshman year, though, and immediately knew I had to be a part of that team as well. Their competitiveness and passion was off the charts, so I emailed coach Christi Kelsey soon afterwards, seeing if I could help out…I'm still surprised that she took me up on the offer. Not a lot of coaches would be willing to give someone as much of an all-access pass to their program as she has, and I'm tremendously grateful for the opportunity."

"Alex has added a tremendous amount to our program over the past three seasons," noted Eph volleyball head coach Christi Kelsey. "He has a passion for both playing and coaching volleyball that shows in his enthusiasm and dedication to the team every day. It is a pretty unique situation to have a student assistant that is as committed as Alex has been over the past three years given all that Williams students face in terms of their academic demands as well as all the other activities Alex is involved in. We have been incredibly fortunate to have Alex as part of our Williams volleyball family and we are grateful for all his hard work and genuine investment in our program."

Crucial to any crazy Williams schedule is a good sense of time management and knowing what is truly important: health and sanity. According to Verschoor-Kirss "knowing when to quit" and always getting a good night's sleep is the secret to his success. "I'm not a real early riser, so I need my sleep. I make sure to not go to bed super late, and will push any reading I have left to do to the next morning. It's not really giving up on the work, it's prioritizing sleep, or at least that's the way I justify it."

After a quick breakfast in the morning it's down to business, with Verschoor-Kirss spending an hour or two doing research for his senior thesis. While obviously a lot of work, Verschoor-Kirss claims he actually is enjoying the process: "I'm working on a thesis in the Religion Department on religious terrorism, a field which fascinates me…my topic has kind of morphed in interesting directions as the year has progressed but it's been great working with Professor [William] Darrow, my advisor, to try and straighten things out."

Also in the morning Verschoor-Kirss tries to slip in a quick diving workout. Having taken last year off from the team to focus on his academics, he rejoined this year for his senior season. "I needed some time away to just recharge and was way too busy junior year to compete, but I really missed the team and its competitiveness, so I was pumped when Coach Kit Callahan Koch [diving coach] and head coach Steve Kuster allowed me to rejoin…Even if I can't get down to the pool and get on the boards I'll do some dry land exercises or light cardio to stay in shape. The season's just around the corner so it's now or never to get prepared for the start."

Like all Williams students, class is an every day activity for Verschoor-Kirss. On Wednesdays it's the senior seminar for Religion majors taught by Professor Jason Josephson. The course is an apt bookend for Verschoor-Kirss' Williams career: "One of my first courses freshman year was Religion 101 with Professor Josephson, and it's been really interesting to take a look once again at some of the issues we discussed back then with a further three years of Williams under my belt…while it's a long class [at 2 hours and 40 minutes,] it's amazing how the conversation keeps going for the entire time."

Verschoor-Kirss' work with volleyball on a home match day starts at 4:00 PM with a pregame meal at Driscoll, followed by a tight block of action. "Midweek game days are intense…I know that I'll show up for pregame meal and probably not get back to my dorm room for seven to eight hours…it's a solid chunk of excitement between the warm-up, game itself, and then recapping it for Sports Info. I think I've got the best job on campus in terms of the enjoyment I get out of it."

Following the match will be the inevitable trip to '82 Grill for food and to rehash the night's action with members of the club volleyball team. "I blame my co-captain Will [Raskin '15] and his roommate Greg [Becker '15] for most of my procrastination. They're always willing to go get food at '82 and we'll sit there for hours talking about volleyball or just quoting absurd YouTube clips. It's a lot of fun but maybe not the most productive use of my time."

Of course with such a busy schedule that leaves little time for work in the evening, although Verschoor-Kirss insists he is able to stay up with his workload. He notes, "It's all about balance…I try and fit in work here and there in the middle of the day." If not, then it will most likely just be "prioritized" lower in favor of sleep, left for the beginning of yet another day. In summing up his crazy life Verschoor-Kirss strongly states that he wouldn't want it any other way: "I wake up every morning in the incredible place that is Williams and am just so grateful for all the opportunities that have been given to me by my professors, coaches, etc. There's nothing that can replace that feeling… It's just another day in paradise."

Learn more about Alexander is this October 28, 2012 Boston Globe profile.

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