He’s not your average 6-foot-10 guy—not that his height is average either. But Jake T. Langlois’s (BA ’17, BS ’17) height did play a part—along with his natural talent—in landing him a spot on the BYU men’s volleyball team as a freshman, an unusual feat since Langlois had never played in a regulated match before college.
Langlois went from college volleyball novice to shirting up for Team USA, playing outside hitter at the Pan American Cup. The first-team All-American currently leads BYU’s team in kills and service aces: his 47 aces in 2017 place him sixth in the country and third all-time at BYU, and his career ace mark of 90 is tied for third all-time. He’s also become a team leader and is regarded as one of the most consistent performers of 2016–17.
“He does a good job helping to lead the team with positivity,” says teammate Leo W. Durkin (’18). “He’s just super assertive and a dominant force out there. He’s a guy you can really trust when you’re out on the court.”
Though his dad played volleyball at BYU, Jake grew up playing everything, excelling in soccer and golf in high school. “I went to [BYU’s] volleyball camp my senior year just for fun,” Langlois says. “I was like, ‘I grew 6 inches last summer, might as well try out a tall sport.’”
After making the BYU team, Jake set out to have a good time, acting as a team manager, ball boy, and scorekeeper, tasks given to those not on the playing roster. He practiced with other hopefuls on what was called the “dark side,” the far section of the gym. Occasionally they would be called on to hit with the roster players, but when left on their own, sometimes practice became a bit more creative.
“To be honest, the six or seven of us guys on the dark side, we wouldn’t even end up playing volleyball sometimes,” Langlois says. “We’d start, we’d try, but it would just get so boring. So we’d play soccer or basketball or load the cannon and shoot volleyballs at each other.”
While other team managers quit, impatient for play time, Jake stuck it out. “Having zero expectations helped me stay positive,” he says.
Now one of the best pin hitters in the nation, Langlois is still in it for the fun. “Volleyball isn’t my life like it is for some of these other guys,” he says. “They grew up playing, but I didn’t. You see me out there; I’m always laughing.”
Brenden L. Sander (’18) says Jake helps keep the team relaxed: “He goes out and plays and does whatever he wants. It’s nice to have that calm and relaxing feel on the court.”
Coach Shawn L. Olmstead (BA ’05) agrees: “Every day, he evolves and learns things that maybe other guys learned years and years ago. He brings a fun energy to improve. . . . He’s definitely pushing himself to be the best he can be.”