Leesburg, Va. — Heritage High School senior Jake Kaplan has made a commitment to continue his volleyball career at Vassar College starting in the 2018-2019 academic year.
“I chose Vassar because it is an amazing academic school,” Kaplan said. “College has really motivated me to keep working hard. I know that if I hadn’t worked as hard as I did, I never would’ve gotten the chance to go to Vassar.”
Vassar College – home to approximately 2,500 students – is located in the scenic Hudson Valley, 75 miles north of New York City, in Poughkeepsie. It is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Vassar’s reputation for supporting its students made Kaplan’s decision process an easy one.
“I am really excited to be a student-athlete” the outside hitter said. “Vassar treats their athletes really well and helps them through balancing their sport and studies.”
The Division III Brewers are coached by Richard Gary — who recently completed his third season as head coach of the Vassar men’s volleyball program. In 2017, the Brewers were one of 12 teams to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament. It was the first time in program history Vassar earned a bid to the NCAA tournament. The NCAA started hosting a national tournament back in 2012.
“It feels great being committed and it takes a lot of stress off my shoulders,” the 6-foot Kaplan said. “I am hoping to add power and leadership to the team.”
Kaplan — who has been playing volleyball for eight years — says his favorite part of volleyball is definitely hitting the ball and getting kills.
“I play volleyball because I really enjoy it and I love the people I play with,” the Leesburg-native said.
Loudoun County has become the strongest region in Virginia over the past decade in high school girls volleybal. However, Loudoun County — as well as most of Northern Virginia — does not sanction high school volleyball for boys. In lieu of playing at Heritage, Kaplan chose to manage the varsity girls volleyball team for all four of his high school seasons.
“My goal is for Northern Virginia to one day have a varsity high school boys volleyball program,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan coaches and also plays on a recreational league that ended up placing second in the Northern Virginia High School Boys Volleyball League.
“I was really proud of how my team improved throughout the year and played until the very end,” Kaplan said.
The future Brewer gives credit to his club volleyball coach — Victor Talamoa — for influencing him the most.
“He has taught me so much ever since I was in eighth grade,” Kaplan said. “My role models have been professional players that are shorter because they have to work twice as hard to get where they are.”
Playing with his club team — BRYC 18 National — Kaplan experienced some of his greatest accomplishments to date. He qualified for the USA Volleyball’s Boys Junior National Championship every year since 2013 and won various tournaments such as the CHRVA and Old Dominion Regional Championships.
“I’ve gotten to compete with some of the best players in the country with the USA High Performance program, which is the national team pipeline,” Kaplan said. “But most importantly, I got to play oversees and represent my country at the Pan-American Maccabiah Games in Santiago, Chile in 2015, where Team USA placed second.”