Ultimately, I think their priorities change a little bit. The guys that get married certainly approach volleyball from a different perspective. It’s not necessarily a better or worse perspective, but things change a little bit because your obligations aren’t just to you, it’s to whomever you’re with. —BYU men's volleyball coach Chris McGown
PROVO — BYU mens' volleyball players Michael Hatch, Tyler Heap, Robbie Sutton and Matt Underwood will join their No. 2 ranked team in taking on No. 10 University of Hawaii Friday, April 4, at 11 p.m. MST.
But the band isn't just known for their power hits, blocks and sets on the court.
Off the court, their camaraderie continues. All four live together in a house nicknamed "The Capitol." And as if their lives didn’t overlap enough already, the players have one more similarity tying them together: they are engaged to be married this summer.
At BYU, over 27 percent of students are married. Engaged couples often have a hard time balancing school and wedding planning. Professors attribute the engagement period to a student’s worst academic performance. For Hatch, Heap, Sutton and Underwood, it’s just an added item to their already full plates.
BYU men's volleyball coach Chris McGown said marriage and engagements haven’t really affected his players.
“I haven’t seen that it’s a distraction or help necessarily,” McGown said. “Ultimately, I think their priorities change a little bit. The guys that get married certainly approach volleyball from a different perspective. It’s not necessarily a better or worse perspective, but things change a little bit because your obligations aren’t just to you, it’s to whomever you’re with.”
Hatch, Heap, Sutton and Underwood sat down with The Universe, BYU's weekly student newspaper, to discuss how being engaged has changed their game — and not just their volleyball game.
The Universe: For how long have you been engaged?
Matt Underwood: I’ve been engaged for five months.
Robbie Sutton: Yeah, he’s the longest out of all of us. I’ve been engaged for two.
Michael Hatch: I’ve been engaged for three.
Tyler Heap: I’ve been engaged for three as well, but three weeks (the other three cheer).
The Universe: Has being engaged affected your game?
RS: Yes, I think it has helped it. Now you don’t have to worry about what’s going on in the dating scene. It has helped a lot.
MU: I agree. I’d say it’s affected me in a positive way. I’m a better player now.
MH: I agree, except I had to miss practice last week for some wedding stuff and I don’t know how happy coach was or my teammates were about that (he laughs).
TH: I’d say it’s had a positive influence on me.
The Universe: How do you balance school, volleyball and fiancées?
MH: You just pick two out of the three you want to do (they all laugh).
RS: That’s so true. I don’t think I do balance it. It’s really, really hard. But at the end of the day, you figure out a way to get it all done and it works out.
MU: Usually you end up after practice just hanging out with your fiancée doing homework — you kind of stick those two together. Volleyball is volleyball, you’re always here for that.
TH: I concur with my brethren.
The Universe: Who is more competitive, you or your fiancée?
MU: My fiancée is 100 percent more competitive than I am.
RS: That’s a hard question. My fiancée and I are both pretty competitive.
MH: She’s competitive, but I always win.
MU: That’s how I am too. I always beat her, but she’s definitely more competitive.
TH: I think I’m more competitive, but she likes to act like she’s not competitive. She really is. So when I beat her, it definitely makes her mad.
The Universe: How involved are you in the wedding planning?
MH: I just say "yes" to whatever she wants (they all nod).
RS: Wedding planning consists of being told what’s going to happen and then agreeing with it and loving whatever happens.
MH: I don’t really care what happens, to be honest.
MU: I don’t think any guy does. We just say "yes." It all works out OK.
The Universe: When are you getting married?
MU: I am engaged to Jayci Stephen and we’re getting married May 7 in San Diego, (LDS temple).
RS: I think I am the last of all of us. I’m getting married June 28 in the San Diego (LDS) temple to Maggie Coleman.
MH: I am engaged to the Sammy Stapley, and we are getting married in the Newport Beach (LDS) temple May 8.
TH: I am engaged to Elizabeth Anne Hawes and we’re getting married in the Bountiful (LDS) temple on June 14.
All four players will stay engaged on the court, too, because there’s plenty of volleyball left before their season ends April 26.
Sarah Ballard is junior studying public relations at Brigham Young University and covers men's volleyball for The Universe.