Nathan Merren



Nathan’s journey from dual-sport athlete at Quartz Hills High School in Woodland Hills, California to playing in his first college volleyball match was a long and painful journey. The odyssey began in 2020 when a clerical error during the college admissions process made him ineligible to suit up for the Matadors. The following year, the ongoing pandemic shortened the season to just five weeks, so rather than burn a year of eligibility, Nathan chose to redshirt the season.

Last year, after a strong fall practice, during which he earned a starting position, disaster struck his family as his older brother, Christopher, who suffered from schizophrenia, was struck by a car on the highway while he was in the state of psychosis. He was killed. The tragedy was devastating for his entire family, but especially for Nathan, as Christopher was also his confidant and best friend. As he fell into a deep depression, Nathan’s grades suffered, and volleyball was the furthest thing from his mind. He took leave from the team as he dealt with the unimaginable weight he found himself carrying.

The CSUN coaching staff wondered if Nathan’s volleyball career would ever begin. However, nine months after the terrible loss, with his mental health getting stronger, Nathan’s father shared a story with him about how he gave up wrestling while at the Naval Academy due to the death of his father. Knowing how much Nathan loved volleyball, he encouraged him to ask his coaches for an opportunity to return and fulfill his dream.

“What allowed me to come out of my funk was to embrace my brother’s death and not pretend that nothing happened,” explained Nathan. “I chose to surround myself with people I love — my family and the CSUN men’s volleyball team. I learned that whenever I am sad, if I express my feelings, I can get the support and love I need.”

The coaches played him sparingly in the first three games this season to ensure he was ready both physically and mentally before making his debut more than 40 months after first stepping foot on campus. In the 10 matches since, he has become a starter and one of the Matadors’ most valuable players, and, as a bonus, he was a member of the Dean’s List for the fall 2022 semester.