Playing with the boys: Local club teams are excited about the future of MSHSL sanctioned boys volleyball

Published 9:20 pm Monday, May 15, 2023

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It’s been a long wait, but the Minnesota State High School League is going to give boys volleyball a shot.

After being voted down last year, supporters of boys volleyball in the state regrouped and recharged and this time around the MSHSL has approved boys volleyball as a sanctioned sport for the 2024-2025 school year. Details of when the season will take place still need to be worked out over the next year, but it is a clear cut victory for supporters and players of the sport, which has grown dramatically in Minnesota over the last decade.

Aleta Myers, of Austin, began her push to bring boys volleyball to Austin when she started a club team 11 years ago. Austin was forced to play Iowa teams that first season as Minnesota had just two teams, but now there are over 70 teams in the state and the Austin boys team has over 30 players on it.

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“We started with my son Trey who is almost 22 and his goal was to play high school sanctioned volleyball. It’s a huge relief and I’m so over the top excited for it. It’s going to be really good for our community. Transportation is always an issue for us, and to have it be an MSHSL sport will be great,” Myers said. “These guys will play any day of the week if they are given the opportunity. They love volleyball and it’s been so great to see their enthusiasm for the sport.”

Nate Thaw is a senior on the Austin club volleyball team and was instantly drawn to the sport when he started high school. He also plays summer volleyball in Todd Park and has grown to embrace the sport.

“It’s usually just for fun at Todd Park, but sometimes it gets really competitive and that’s how we learn,” Thaw said. “We picked up on volleyball because we saw people from our culture playing and we really like the sport. Volleyball is a very inclusive sport and it involves teamwork. At the end of the day, we all have fun and we all get to know each other.”

While Thaw won’t be able to play volleyball as a sanctioned sport, Austin freshman Rue Shairlahmolue will get that chance. He is excited to keep working on the court with the anticipation of playing in front of bigger crowds.

“I feel like I’m going to get way better,” Shairlahmolue said. “I’m going to work on getting a better hop, and I’m going to be practicing now that it will be an official sport.”

While Austin has been building up a boys program for over a decade, Southland joined with Grand Meadow to start a program this year. Southland head girls volleyball coach Michelle Nelsen started the boys club team this spring after her son Brede Nelsen played volleyball in Kasson last year.

Many of the Southland-Grand Meadow players play other sports, but they all have fun on the volleyball court.

“We had to start from scratch and teach them the basics rules and what the lines mean,” Michelle Nelsen said. “The boys come with a different level of intensity than the girls do. Their excitement and athletic ability is just different and it’s a different type of energy in the gym. It gives them the opportunity to do something they’ve only seen the girls do. We have an amazing fan club for our girls game and now they get to see what it’s all about. They also gain a respect for the game and that’s been really fun.”

Carter Glynn, a freshman from Grand Meadow, said that he has enjoyed getting to know his new teammates and a new sport this fall.

“Playing volleyball in gym class is fun, so I decided to give this a try,” Glynn said. “I’ve gotten to meet new people and now I’m playing with a lot of the Southland guys that I used to play against.”

Jer Osgood has coached the Austin club volleyball team for four years and has seen the sport give many students a chance to shine in a new way.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids who are seeking an outlet,” Osgood said. “The majority of these kids are not spring sport athletes, so it’s a great chance for them to play a sport that they love.”