By Nicholas Lopez
As the only returning captain of this year’s BC Bulldogs Mens Volleyball team, setter/outside hitter, #5 Timothy Hui has an abundance of responsibility.
People often point out his diminutive height at five-feet and five-inches, but what he lacks in that department, the 20-year-old junior makes up for with his knowledge of the game and explosiveness.
“I strongly believe that actions speak louder than words, so if I kill the ball, then there’s nothing much to say,” said Hui.
He honed his craft through YouTube tutorials on how to spike, bump and set. He plays with a careful dash of grace and precision. His coaches and teammates also consider him a huge asset.
“He always helps the other players get better and he reaches really high, almost as high as me,” said Mateusz Gotowicki, fellow Bulldogs teammate who stands at six-feet and two-inches.
“Tim was basically our most valuable player last year as a sophomore. Not much has changed. If our team was a car, he’d be the motor,” said Michael Salak, the Bulldogs Head Coach. “Somewhat, I feel like how he does, we do. His leadership is really a big part of what is allowing us to be successful this year.”
Although he is now a highly regarded player, volleyball was not his first sport.
Hui started life in the blistery-cold town of St. Paul, Minnesota, where his Dad’s side of the family lived. Halfway through first grade, he moved to Brooklyn. Since he already had cousins there from his Mom’s side of the family, he easily adjusted.
Hui went to elementary school at P.S. 176. In fourth grade, he weighed 120 pounds. He was a “chubby bunny,” which depressed him when he glanced in the mirror. He watched basketball on TV and imagined himself as a tall and muscular adult. To get there, he believed in basketball and asked his parents for a basketball hoop.
For the whole 2003 summer, he shot hoops in his backyard and cut down his sugar intake. By the time sixth grade came, he shed most of his extra weight.
From there, he went to I.S. 227- Edward B. Shallow. Between sixth and eighth grades, he joined the Neighborhood Improvement Association and the After-School Program Basketball team.
Hui attended the Telecommunications High School of Arts and Technology. In his freshman year, he joined the boy’s cross-country team, outdoor track team and junior varsity basketball team.
In his sophomore year, he left the basketball team because he no longer liked the environment. He heard his Dad used to play volleyball and wanted to try something new.
Hui played for the boy’s varsity volleyball team for three years. During his sophomore and junior years, his coach encouraged him, but the team lost a lot. In his junior year, they had a 2-10 record. He hated the conditions of his high school gym too, which was small and often needed pencils or pens to hold up the volleyball net.
In his senior year, a new volleyball coach, Seung Yu, came in. He taught Hui about discipline, determination, pride, focus and told him he had strong potential if he continued volleyball in college, which took him by surprise.
In 2010, he graduated from high school. Brooklyn College and Baruch College both accepted him. As he pondered his future, Baruch sounded less appealing. He didn’t want to pursue business or travel all the way there. He considered BC a better choice for several reasons.
“From high school, when I imagined college, I imagined a very nice campus and Baruch didn’t have that. Plus, Brooklyn College is relatively close to my house,” said Hui. “The campus is beautiful here and the gym in the West Quad building is one of the best in CUNY.”
Hui tried out for the men’s volleyball team and realized he had a lot to learn. He quickly picked up on the things the head coach at the time, Trish Morris, informed him to work on.
In 2011, his freshman year, he played all 22 games with the Bulldogs and totaled a CUNYAC-best 238 digs. He also was named the 2011 CUNYAC Libero of the Year, an award he takes to heart.
“That was pretty amazing to me because all of my hard work had paid off,” said Hui.
Last year, his second year with the team, he was more confident, but was saddened by Coach Morris’ departure for Australia. This brought in coach Michael Salak, who taught Hui new skills and upped him to another level.
Last season, he appeared in all 24 matches and had 78 sets on the year. He totaled 21 service aces and a team-high 273 digs. He finished with 3.50 digs/set average, which led all of NCAA Division III and was also named a CUNYAC Second Team All-Star.
He began to coach volleyball on Sundays for his church league team called the New Life Now Warriors, which he still does today. He coaches players from ages 14 to 20 and feels coaching has helped shape his own game.
“If you could coach something, that means that you’re pretty much on top of your game,” Hui said.
He uses positive reinforcement to motivate his players and often encourages them to try something new during practice.
For him, passing is the simplest part of the game while setting is the most difficult. He compares setting to being a football quarterback.
“As a setter, you have to think twice as much as everybody else and then I’m also hitting, but I’m very grateful that I have two other captains to help me along with the battle,” said Hui.
With no prior setting experience, Hui never fully appreciated the role until coach Salak placed him there this season. In 14 games so far, he has racked up a total of 112.5 points.
In their last game as of press time against Lehman, Hui recorded nine kills, nine assists and seven digs in a victory that improved the Bulldogs to a 6-8 overall season record and 4-3 in CUNYAC.
A game like volleyball is all about momentum and although their season record isn’t ideal, Hui hopes the win will add to it.
“The only thing we’re missing right now is unity. I think that comes with time,” said Hui. “I have that as a goal for the season, to bring my team together because we’re playing right now as individuals rather than a team.”
Although his parents highly support him, they remind him to stay on top of his academics and keep his current 3.0 GPA stabilized.
As for the future, he’s not sure what’s out there for him or what he wants to do.
“I think I just chose Adaptive Physical Education as a major because I think I’m able to do that and I don’t see myself doing anything else,” said Hui.
For him, his main concern is all about the here and now and he believes that it will ultimately pay off.
“I do as much as I can to be a captain, so I guess I have that captain mentality,” Hui said. “I’m very eager and hungry to win, but I guess staying patient and seeing the bigger picture is more important.”