Boys’ and men’s volleyball is growing everywhere


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Boys’ and men’s volleyball is growing everywhere[818308841565995]&action_ref_map=[]&action_type_map=[%22og.likes%22]&fb_action_ids=988116791199349&fb_action_types=og.likes&

In Ohio, the number of boys’ high school programs doubled, to 110, in the last decade. Using USAV and their own funds, the Ohio High School Boys Volleyball Association’s expansion committee offered grants toward start-up costs and other expenses. Targeting schools that already had a girls’ program was the first step, explained committee chairman Matt Mihelic, coach of two-time boys’ volleyball state champion Archbishop Hoban in Akron. Equipment and coaches can often be shared, making volleyball a relatively easy sport to add. The expansion brigade also encouraged fall leagues for sixth to eighth graders. “The idea is to hook them early before they get too deep into baseball or lacrosse,” said Mihelic.

The Ohio endeavor has been very successful, but it wasn’t without roadblocks. “We went to some schools that said, ‘We didn’t know that boys play volleyball,’” recounted the lifelong player with a wince. “Internal champions” are the best weapon against resistance of any kind. “It took an athletic director, a girls’ volleyball coach, students and parents, to really drive it through,” Mihelic noted.

On the high school stage, California remains the monster, with 655 high school teams in 2013, followed by runner-up Pennsylvania’s 208. Behind Pennsylvania, it’s New York (183), Illinois (180), and Florida (156) with the most high school boys’ teams. Based on annual data collected by the National Federation of State High School Associations, that ranking has remained constant in the last 10 years, but Ohio and Florida stand out with roughly 100 and 50 percent growth, respectively, in that span.