Vasilis Mandilaris, a 21-year old foreign student at Barton College, came from Athens, Greece.

The reason Mandilaris came all the way to Wilson is to participate in the men’s volleyball program at Barton.

“I always wanted to play NCAA volleyball,” Mandilaris said. “This is a goal for many international student-athletes. The offer to play for Barton was great, and I am happy that I have the opportunity to be here and compete for the bulldogs.”

In his two years competing with the Bulldogs, Mandilaris has earned Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year (2016), All-Conference First Team (2017), and AVCA All American (2017).

Mandilaris has experience representing his native country in its junior national beach volleyball team with his 18-year-old brother, Aggelos. They have traveled together throughout Europe to represent Greece and compete against other countries.

“Representing your country is the biggest honor for any athlete,” Mandilaris said. “It is an amazing feeling, and it motivates me to keep working hard to become the best I can be.”

“Vasilis had big dreams since he was very young,” Aggelos said. “He never gives up on his goals and is a person to trust through a hard situation because you know he will do the best he can.”

“When he got called in the sand volleyball junior national team, which was his life goal, he did not stop there,” said Aggelos. “He already set new goals that are even harder to achieve.”

Mandilaris’ next goals are to play beach volleyball professionally and to qualify for the Olympics.

Mandilaris was first introduced to volleyball when he was in elementary school through his father, who also played the sport. This is the time he developed his passion for volleyball.

During his last two years of high school, Mandilaris studied and played volleyball in the United Kingdom at Leaf Academy.

He made the decision to stay in Greece during this time, targeting his focus on extensive volleyball training with the national team rather than collectively focusing on both volleyball and academics. He decided to go to Leaf Academy because it provided a schedule that incorporated both academics and volleyball effectively, which was not provided in Greece.

Mandilaris is studying business administration and sports management at Barton. In addition to his athletic awards, he has also been named on the Conference Carolinas Spring Presidential Honor Roll during his both years at Barton.

“What I like about Barton is that there are professors who are helpful and can make me a better person,” Mandilaris said. “It’s good for me because they are from a different country than me, so they help me learn things that people from my country probably would not be able to teach me.”

Although Mandilaris misses the food and the lifestyle back home, he enjoys the community that Barton provides. “I think the majority of people here are nice and friendly.”

By Christian Reyes