Simpson College will become the second NCAA Division III institution in the state of Iowa to sponsor men’s volleyball, the College announced Wednesday. Kekailoa Palea, the head women’s volleyball coach for the Storm, will also coach the men’s program.
The men’s volleyball team will begin competition in 2022-23.
“Adding men’s volleyball is one of several key strategic initiatives for the athletic department and college that I fully endorse,” President Marsha Kelliher said. “It will give us an opportunity to expand the reach of our recruitment and enrollment efforts. New athletic teams and other co-curricular programming are vital components for Simpson’s goal of enhancing the student experience.”
Simpson is set to become the ninth men’s volleyball program in the state of Iowa across NCAA Division III and NAIA levels. This announcement comes less than one month after the College announced the addition of men’s and women’s gymnastics. The new sports are part of the new strategic vision for the athletic department, which now sponsors a total of 22 varsity sports.
“We are extremely pleased to announce the addition of men’s volleyball to our program offerings,” Director of Athletics Marty Bell said. “Men’s volleyball will strengthen our academic and athletic profile while creating exciting new opportunities for our campus and community. I believe this program can be successfully managed with strong leadership and I am thrilled that coach Palea has agreed to accept this important responsibility. This puts us in a strong position for success, both now and in the future.”
Palea is in his second season as head coach of the Storm women’s volleyball team after taking over in the summer of 2020. He previously worked as the player development director and head coach for the 15-18 team at Iowa Powerplex in Waukee.
“Adding men’s volleyball provides an opportunity to build a volleyball community on campus that we hope to grow even bigger in the future,” Palea said. “There is a lot of positive energy with our women’s program that we hope to roll over into the men’s team. Adding this team is going to be challenging and exciting, but I am looking forward to building this program.”
The Kent, Washington native spent three seasons on Bobbi Petersen’s staff at the University of Northern Iowa. While in Waterloo, the Panthers posted a 63-5 record and earned two NCAA Tournament berths.
Palea graduated from Graceland University with degrees in graphic design and sculpture after competing on the men’s volleyball team from 2005-08. He resides in Waukee with his wife, Candice and their son, Kainalu.
About Simpson College
Simpson College is a private, liberal arts college located in Iowa with campuses in Indianola, West Des Moines and online. Founded in 1860, the college has 1,268 undergraduate and graduate students. Simpson offers 74 majors, minors and programs in addition to three graduate programs. Outside of the classroom, Simpson is a member of the NCAA Division III American Rivers Conference, hosts eight Greek houses on campus and sponsors many extracurricular options for student involvement.
Bryan Geelan, marketing communication director