April 12, 2024
Life At Witt

Eye on the Tigers: Reese Monnin '27

Reese Monnin '27 Perseveres Through Personal Tragedy To Help Tiger Men's Volleyball Win Title

SPRINGFIELD — There is no doubt that the 2024 season has been a special one for the Wittenberg men's volleyball team. Already at 18-8 overall, the Tigers won the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League regular-season championship with a perfect 9-0 record and are preparing to host the MCVL Tournament as the top seed. Through it all, freshman Reese Monnin has been a solid contributor and steady on-court presence while battling unimaginable personal tragedy.

"It was a big moment for me when all of my personal stuff happened in February, a lot of my professors emailed me or came to events to see how I was doing and to let me know that everything at school was going to be fine and not to worry about it," Monnin recalled of earlier this year when he learned of the sudden, unexpected passing of his mother, Stephanie.

That support from his professors, coaches, teammates and the entire Wittenberg community told him one thing — being a Tiger is special.

"The whole team came to the viewing and a lot of professors showed up, and that was really special to me. Seeing them and a lot of my club and school friends there, I don't know how to explain it. It felt very warm and touching," he said. "They were all moved by the loss and always offered to lend an ear or hand at any time. It was during that period that I knew I made the right choice with Wittenberg and this team."

Monnin's journey to Wittenberg began just 20 miles away in Xenia, Ohio, where he and his fraternal twin brother, Tyler, were homeschooled from kindergarten through eighth grade. Reese was first introduced to competitive sports when he played youth basketball at 7 or 8 years old but discovered volleyball and soccer in his junior high years. When it came time to pick a sport to focus on upon his enrollment at Archbishop Carroll High School, it was volleyball that held the most appeal.

"It was partly due to how much volleyball meant to my parents. They met at a YMCA rec league, so there was an emotional attachment to volleyball," he said. "I enjoyed playing sand volleyball in the summer and school ball in the spring, and I started doing club in the fall, which gave me a friend group and social connection that I didn't get as much with being homeschooled."

His brother chose the same path for much the same reasons, and they enjoyed being there for each other throughout their life journeys.

"With Tyler, it was something really special because he was always someone I could count on to get the job done on and off the court and be the role model that we were trying to be for each other to keep ourselves in check," Monnin said.

Monnin had just one week of volleyball practice his freshman year at Carroll before the Covid pandemic wiped out the remainder of the season. That left him still adjusting to the varsity level as a sophomore, but things really picked up for him in his junior year.

"That's when volleyball turned into a passion for me and I invested a lot more into it," he said.

That year, Carroll competed in the state tournament for the first time ever, advancing all the way to the finals to face Badin High School. Current teammate Eli Halverson was a senior on that Badin squad, whose four-set victory that day remains a conversation topic between the two.

Monnin earned All-Region and All-State recognition in both his junior and senior seasons in high school and had been contemplating playing volleyball at the collegiate level. He credits his club volleyball coach, Corey Burge, with giving him the confidence to pursue the sport at the collegiate level.

"Coach Corey really gave me the motivation and encouragement and inspiration that I could take it further than club and school volleyball, that I could succeed at a higher level," Monnin said. "It was him, along with my parents pushing me to be the best athlete and student I could be."

Reese Monnin Men's Volleyball Graphic

A meeting with Wittenberg men's volleyball head coach Nathan Matthews sold him on continuing his athletic and academic careers in Springfield.

"Nathan is such a cool dude," Monnin said. "Above being a great coach and mentor, he is a friend you can talk to."

Monnin wanted to attend college close to home, and Wittenberg checked that box. He also liked having a built-in network of friends and acquaintances on the Tigers' roster whom he had played with or against at the club and high school levels, including Halverson and sophomores Sam Richardson, Greg Efaw, Dominic Smith and Trajan Kress.

"It felt like a homecoming, and that's what I wanted," he said. "For the longest time, I struggled with whether coming to Wittenberg was just the easiest choice. But it's turned out to be the best choice."

One of the best aspects about attending school at Wittenberg, he said, is the relationships that students can build with their professors.

"With having smaller classes, the teachers know you, and if you're absent, they'll check up on you," he said. "The professors I've had in the business department are all wonderful people that are easy to talk to and like to get to know their students."

Monnin is currently majoring in marketing, viewing it as a field with wide-ranging professional applications. But he's keeping the door open to potentially double major in environmental science.

"Environmental science is more of the passion aspect because I've always liked the natural world and being outdoors," he said.

On the court, Monnin has been a key player for the Tigers all year. He ended the regular season with a .414 hitting percentage and ranked second on the team in blocks (42) and fourth in kills (142). He earned MCVL Rookie of the Year and All-MCVL Second Team recognition this season and credits his success to keeping his emotions in check.

"A lot of the guys jokingly comment about me being a robot with not expressing a lot of emotions during the game. I like to view that as a strength where I don't let emotions get in the way of my play," he said. "I always have that next-play mentality, and I think my level head is my best aspect."

Matthews said Monnin has been a fantastic addition to the Tiger men's volleyball family from the start.

"Reese came in from the very beginning of the year and was an exceptional addition to our team's culture. He has been a sponge in learning college-level volleyball, worked extremely hard and been a fantastic teammate. What he has accomplished this season is no accident," Matthews said. "I am so proud of what he has done this year and what he has added to our program. I have been just as proud to see the way our guys have rallied around and supported him. It has shown how much of a family this team really is, and that's what makes them unstoppable."

Monnin credits Matthews for helping him improve his skills throughout the season, but nothing could have prepared him for his mother's passing. The Tigers had been gearing up for a match at Mount Vernon Nazarene, where Tyler plays, at the time, but both teams agreed to postpone the game and move it to the larger venue at Wittenberg so more people could attend in support of the Monnin family. On March 26, in a game deemed the Stephanie Monnin Memorial Match, the teams played in front of the largest crowd in the history of the Wittenberg men's volleyball program.

"To have all of my mom's family and friends come in and completely fill The Pam was something that we had never seen before. It was almost like she was there with me."
Reese Monnin '27

As was read to the crowd over the PA that night, Stephanie Monnin meant so much to so many people. As a volleyball player, coach and mom, she was enthusiastic, selfless, supportive and brought people together. Whether it was words of encouragement after a tough practice or brownies for the team after a match, she was always thinking of others. But most of all, she simply enjoyed watching Reese and Tyler play.

Reese and the Tigers got the better of Tyler and the Cougars that night, but the impact extended well beyond the victory.

"Before that game, I would try to be more mentally focused on the game and would try to block out that tragedy. But that game is when my mentality switched, and I started playing with and for my mom rather than trying to block it out," Monnin said. "All my life, she was my teacher, my coach and my mom. Now I like to think that I keep her with me all the time rather than try to separate those emotions from the game."

That victory came amidst the Tigers' current eight-game win streak that is sending them into the postseason with plenty of momentum as they eye an MCVL Tournament championship.

"I think this is our year to win the tournament," Monnin said.

Wes Mayberry
Wes Mayberry
Associate Director of Athletics Communications

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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