Boys volleyball has been the second-fastest growing high school sport over the last decade, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Boys volleyball enjoys strong support on the nation’s coasts, and the trend has been moving inward in recent years, including in the local area, where a club team is planning its second season for April 12-June 17.
Boys volleyball began in Minnesota in 2018. The Elk River High School Boys volleyball team was created one year later, in 2019. While based out of Elk River, the club team welcomes athletes from neighboring communities such as STMA. The team will host a Zoom informational meeting about the upcoming season at 12:30 p.m. this coming Sunday, Jan. 31. To access the link, visit www.elkrivervolleyball.org/boys.
The Elk River boys team had 15 athletes for their inaugural season, and the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area had 22 schools with 38 total teams that year. Covid canceled the 2020 season, but over double the number of schools had been registered to play boys volleyball last year, with 56 schools offering 94 boys volleyball teams. This year, those schools are hoping to create both JV and varsity teams for their athletes this upcoming season. While boys volleyball, as a club sport, is not affiliated with the Minnesota State High School League at this time, the program’s director/coach, Rick Michalak, said Minnesota boys volleyball leaders have their sights set on bringing boys volleyball into the MSHSL in the future.
Why Try Volleyball?
The rules of boys volleyball are nearly identical to the girls program, besides that the net is slightly higher. Michalak said he and other boys volleyball leaders in Minnesota want to break down stigma of volleyball being a sport for girls. Mens volleyball is offered at 239 colleges across the United States, ranging from Division 1 to Division 3 programs, and it is gaining popularity at the high school level. In the future, Michalak said they’d like to create youth opportunities for boys to build the program from younger ages. For now, the club program is open for grades 7-12.
A big benefit of volleyball over some other team sports, Michalak said, is the frequency of touches players get with the ball per game compared with sports like baseball and football. Where you may only get three at-bats or a few catches per game in those sports, volleyball offers a chance to pass, set and hit the ball at a high frequency, while still being in a team-sport environment.
“We all hope that boys will see it’s an amazing sport to play,” he said. “It’s easy to get hooked once you try it. There’s nothing like going up in the air and getting a really good hit on the other team.”