April 13, 2018 By Yash Padhye, Emily Coats, and Allye Clayton Imagine moving 5,400 miles away from your parents and the comforts of home. That’s what brothers Vasilis and Angelos Mandilaris have done, coming to the United States to pursue their dreams of playing professional volleyball and continuing their education at Barton College in North Carolina. Not many have made the move, with a head count of only about 75 or 10 percent of all NCAA men’s volleyball players being international students according to Off the Block Blog.
In Europe, they would have to chose to either play volleyball professionally or attend a university. By coming to America, they can do both.
While it can be hard to transition to a different environment, it wasn’t hard for sophomore right side hitter Angelos Mandilaris to mesh well within his new team and school. Totaling 284 kills in his freshman season, Angelos was named the Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year along with other achievements. Read his full player profile here.
“It was really easy. I was abroad in England for a few years,” said Angelos Mandilaris. “I like America a lot; people are friendly with me. They welcomed me from the first day. I made friends easily.”
His older brother Vasilis, a junior outside hitter, believes that his time in England with Angelos, coupled with the fact that there were a few other international students on the volleyball team, helped him feel at home in America. Barton College has welcomed an array of international players from Serbia, Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico to their roster.
“When I came here there were many international students,” said Vasilis Mandilaris, “so I was able to adjust easily, and my teammates were very glad about it, and they always welcomed me and helped me adjust to America very well.”
Vasilis also earned the Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year during his freshman season with 328 kills played over 102 sets. Recently, he was named Conference Carolinas Men’s Volleyball Player of the Week on March 5, 2018. See Vasilis’ full player profile here.
The biggest difference that the brothers have noticed between volleyball in Europe and volleyball in the United States is the playing and coaching styles. In Europe, coaches like to spend time building muscle memory and perfecting the techniques of volleyball. While in America, the brothers have noticed that learning comes a lot from trial and error on the court. Vasilis also noted that American volleyball is much more athletic compared to European style playing, which is more focused on skills.
While there are some sibling rivalries, Vasilis believes that through the years, he’s become more understanding of Angelos’ playing style.
”“We’ve always played together for a long time. We have a very good relationship, so at the beginning, it’s a little fighting,” Vasilis Mandilaris said, “but gradually you learn how to understand each other and respect [each other], and I think we do pretty well.”
Both brothers have expressed their goals this season of not only winning their conference tournament, as of April 4 they are the top seed in the Conference Carolinas, but also having success in the NCAA tournament in May.