Men's volleyball team finds solace in memory of teammate


Walk into the weight room at the George Mason University field house and feel the level of fortitude. The men’s volleyball team is hard at work, pushing themselves harder than they ever have before. At first glance, you’d think they had a match coming up next week. Look a little closer and you will find that their motivation is from a different source. And upon even closer inspection, you see the broken hearts and sad faces of Patrick Sibley’s teammates.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, Aug. 18, the Mason community lost student-athlete Patrick Sibley in a metro-train related incident. The loss of Sibley, a mid-blocker on the men’s volleyball team, is the reason the weight room is filled with his teammates. The team is pushing themselves to the highest level of excellence because that’s what Pat always did.

“I think about him every single time that I step onto the court or into the weight room to just push for that one extra play, or rep,” said teammate Dave Lucas. “On the court, [Pat] was one of the hardest working people I’d ever seen. He just laid everything out every single day. He’s a huge motivator for our team just because of the work ethic, and that’s the legacy that he leaves as far as volleyball goes.”

Sibley was a motivator for his team on and off the court in every facet of their lives. And now in his absence, the team wants everyone to remember Pat through them.

“We want to show that Pat lives on through us and want everybody to see when we’re working hard in and out of the classroom or on the court or even like life decisions, like we’re pushing ourselves to the absolute max just like Pat would,” said teammate Jonathon Lutz. “We want everybody to remember Pat through us.”

At 6’8”, Sibley was a big physical presence on the team and was the only returning starter from last year. Despite his intimidating figure, he’s described by teammates as being loved by everybody he came in contact with.

“He had the biggest heart you’d ever meet,” said teammate John Jepson.

“His soul was probably as big as his muscles,” Lutz said.

The pain is still fresh, and the team’s hearts are heavy with the weight they carry now and will continue to carry into next season. While the team may not have the skill or physical presence Sibley brought to the team, his emotional presence will take them through the days ahead and into next season.

“He cared about everyone, and he was the most loyal friend,” Jepson said. “And I miss him.”

Despite his absence, Sibley continues to motivate the team by providing focus and strength to his teammates.

“I think everyone on our team would agree that he was just a huge motivator for our team when he was in the gym, and even though he’s gone now he’s still continuing to motivate us,” said teammate Pete Cupernill. “Obviously his shoes are big ones to fill. But, with the common goal we have in mind now, and doing what we can to live out what Pat’s ideals were every single day, I think we’ll be able to fill them.”

A natural leader, world-class athlete and best friend to many, Sibley’s sudden death changed the way his teammates approach their own lives.

“Using him as a reminder of what he stood for and what we want to accomplish and how to really take ourselves to the next level and just remember Pat in the best way possible,” said teammate Robbie Stoeckinger. “He was a very happy kid, smart and hardworking, and that’s how we want to do things.”

Friends and teammates described Sibley as a charismatic, compassionate person who was friends with everyone he met. He had the ability to transcend his friend groups and cared deeply about everyone he knew.

“I think that as a person, Pat Sibley was pure. He was a genuine pure person,” said Men’s Volleyball Head Coach Fred Chao. “He didn’t pretend to be something that he wasn’t, and he didn’t do things just to fit in or to try to make people like him. He was his own person, and everybody liked him.”

While the Mason community continues to mourn the loss of Patrick Sibley, the team is hard at work trying to live out the ideals of their best friend and teammate. 

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