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The Rise of the MN Boys High School Volleyball Association

By Jenny Kilkelly and Krista Flemming, Junior Volleyball Association, 01/08/19, 12:00PM CST

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The most important key is to stay focused on the greater good. Use a logical and simple format as the priority when making decisions.

The MN Boys High School Volleyball Association was established in 2018 to create opportunities and support boys playing volleyball in Minnesota high schools. Its mission is to help provide a low cost league and administrative assistance to relieve the amount of responsibility and functions in the school athletic departments. With the support of Hugh McCutcheon, Walt Weaver, and North Country Region, the Association had its inaugural Boys High School Volleyball Season in the Spring of 2018 with 22 schools fielding 38 JV and Varsity volleyball teams allowing 400+ boys to compete for their high school.

The ultimate goal is for Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) to recognize, support and sanction boys high school volleyball as a MSHSL sport. 

If you are asking "why isn't there boys volleyball in my state?" Here are steps and information for you to turn your question into action.

The MN Boys High School Volleyball Association eases the start up by streamlining processes and reducing affordability barriers.

Here are keys to their success that can be used in any state.

  • Passionate Volleyball Icons: Each state has them.
  • Athletic Directors: Find a few who are knowledgeable of the state high school league process, can guide, advise and speak up on behalf of your league.
  • Have a turnkey guide to starting a team: Make it easy for a parent, player or coach by spelling it out. Have a Coaches Corner with Checklists and Resource Center Follow the steps HERE.
  • Business and Marketing Plan: Use Social Media to reach people and keep them engaged. Start a website and use team communication via SE, GroupMe, Etc.
  • Focus on the greater good as the priority when making decisions: go into a volunteer mindset, find people with connections, keep it simple and celebrate small wins. Do a few things "great" rather than many things "ok".
  • League Registrations and Communication Tool: this league uses JVA's partner SportsEngine for website, registration and league management, documentation.
  • Officiating and Scoring: Hire an R1, engage local officials' association, have teams assist with line judging, R2, line-up tracking, and scorekeeping (helps learn the sport and lower costs), and keep score sheet simple.
  • Registration and Insurance: Safety first, background checks and coaching safety, can use JVA, AAU or USAV insurance. This league uses JVA insurance.
  • Rules and Guidelines: Let them play! No 2nd touch double calls, limited overlapping calls, use a logical and simple format and allow coaches to mentor/teach during games, especially early in the season.

The most important key is to stay Focused on the Greater Good. Use a logical and simple format as the priority when making decisions. Go into it with a volunteer mindset, find people with connections, keep it simple and celebrate small wins. Do a few things "great" rather than many things "ok".

"We hoped for 10-15 teams TOTAL! That would be a HUGE win in our minds" shares MN High School Boys Volleyball Association Co-Director Krista Flemming. "We got 38 teams!! That was not anticipated. Response and interest was amazing. It is carrying over into 2019 for many schools that just couldn't pull the trigger in time last year. We already have 36 schools (72 teams for Year 2) with registration deadline being Feb 1, 2019."

Challenges to Expect

There is always hesitation to try new things. The main obstacles that MN Boys HS Volleyball Association faced were:

  • Available Facilities
    • Get Creative - think outside the box - share court/gym space
    • Use one facility as the central hub until more established
       
  • Scheduling
    • Require equal number of JV and Varsity teams
    • Have options/scenarios if teams need to forfeit
       
  • School Administration Opposition
    • Added pressures on presumed workload
    • Decreased participation in other sports
       
  • Title IV Effect
    • Misconception that a boys sport cannot happen
    • Not an issue at the state level

"It's important to remember that the female and male versions of our sport help each other immensely. There are very few sports that can say that. Without question, having a boys volleyball team will help your girls team and vice versa." - Hugh McCutcheon, University of Minnesota Women's Head Volleyball Coach. Former USA/Olympic Men's & Women's Volleyball Coach

If you are interested in starting a Boys Team/Program at your School, here is a Checklist.

  1. Find a Team Director/Coach
  2. Talk to Your Athletic Director
  3. Become a School Recognized Club –
  4. Identify an Entity to "Host" the Club
  5. Determine Individual Team Cost & Player Dues
  6. Host Info Mtg, Open Gym Dates & Recruit 8-10 Boys (minimum)
  7. Attend/Host a League Info Night
  8. Register with the HS Association (League) and JVA (Insurance)
  9. Find Gym Space, Set Practices, and Order Jerseys

More specific information on starting a program can be found HERE.

Questions are welcome, so please do not hesitate to reach out to Jenny, Krista or the JVA staff for guidance and advice. It is an exciting time for boys volleyball and we look forward to growing the game together, one step at a time. Click HERE to visit the MN High School Volleyball Association website.

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About the JVA

The JVA is an association of Junior Club Directors and Coaches who are dedicated to all facets of junior volleyball and have a desire to offer the best programming possible to their members. We are the leaders and forward thinkers in Junior Volleyball Programs and we are a voice for junior clubs. Our number one goal is to help club programs and events thrive.