COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 14, 2012) – James Stuck (New Kensington, Pa.) has been named the USA Volleyball Male Athlete of the Year for sitting volleyball.
Stuck, 28, was one of eight players on the U.S. Men’s Sitting Volleyball Team who traveled to the Intercontinental Cup in Cairo, Egypt in March to make one last attempt to qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. The team finished eighth and did not qualify.
“We did rather well at Continental Cup in Egypt,” Stuck said. “Even though we didn’t qualify, we went over with only eight people.
“I was really happy and proud of myself and my teammates,” Stuck said. “We were tired because we were playing every point of every match. That was really a high point. We came together as a unit rather than dividing.”
Stuck and his teammates on the U.S. Men’s Sitting Volleyball Team know about hard times. The team finished second at the 2011 Parapan American Games, losing to Brazil in the gold medal match and missing out on another opportunity to qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games.
At the 2011 Parapan American Games, Stuck finished 16th among all scorers with 41 points on 32 kills, five blocks and four aces. He finished eighth among all setters with 15 running sets (.60 per set).
U.S. Men’s Sitting Volleyball Team Captain Brent Rasmussen (Omaha, Neb.) said Stuck was integral to helping the players come back from the loss.
“I know it’s the toughest loss he’s ever had to experience,” Rasmussen said. “But he was there for his teammates afterwards and gave his all in practice.”
Rasmussen also praised Stuck for his outgoing team leadership.
“I think that’s what stands out about James is his vocal leadership both on the court and during timeouts,” Rasmussen said.
Stuck is majoring in kinesiology at the University of Central Oklahoma, where the U.S. sitting volleyball teams are based. He is also a massage therapist and a husband and father of Andrew, who was born in 2011.
He plans to continue with the team in hopes of qualifying for the 2014 WOVD Sitting Volleyball World Championships and the 2016 Paralympic Games.
“Without my team, I wouldn’t have the opportunities that I have,” Stuck said. “I want to thank the guys for sticking with everything through all the trials and tribulations. I want to thank (Head Coach) Bill Hamiter specifically for putting up with us.
“Thanks to my wife for taking care of our house and family while I am at these tournaments.”