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Case for HS Boys Varsity Volleyball

This page provides a thoughtful and balanced case for school-sponsored boys volleyball at high schools in Northern Virginia.  The message is targeted to school district officials, including school principals, directors of student activities (DSAs) and other athletics administrators.

Why High School Boys Volleyball?

The following summarize the benefits of elevating High School Boys Volleyball to a school-sponsored sport.

  1. Growing in Popularity and Demand
    • Growing nationally
    • Growing locally
  2. Great Alternative Fall Sport
    • More boys can participate on a team sport
    • Inclusive and scalable
    • Comparatively safe
  3. Easy to Implement
    • Currently a VHSL sport already played in Virginia
    • Minimal Start-up and sustaining costs
    • Existing local support infrastructure

Strong Growth Nationally

The popularity of High School Boys Volleyball is increasing rapidly across the county according to the annual participation survey of National Federation of State High School Associations

  • 22% growth this decade - The highest percentage increase of any HS boys sport with 50,000 or more participants.

  • 7% growth in the last year alone - Over 3,700 new participants in just 2017-18, more than all boys sport other than the larger soccer and cross-county

  • 24.7 participants per school - Schools are accommodating a large number of interested boys each year

There are several other indicators of strong growth and demand for boys volleyball across the county:

  • There are more than 19,000 boys holding USA Volleyball membership (68% increase in 10 years) with 1,162 youth clubs offering boys volleyball.
  • Since 2012, NCAA Division III Mens Volleyball has more than doubled from 50 to 105 schools.

Strong Growth Locally

The three boys-only volleyball leagues in Northern Virginia are also experiencing strong growth in popularity.

  • 50% overall growth since 2013 - Northern Virginia Boys Volleyball participants have increased by 100 boys in the last 6 years

  • Steady growth in HS participation - Boys playing in the NoVA HS Boys Volleyball League (NVHSBVL) has remained consistently strong

  • Explosive growth in ES and MS - Led by a strong Middle School turnout, the NoVA Boys Volleyball League has more than doubled since 2013

Great Alternative Fall Sport for Boys

Volleyball provides a high value team experience for boys looking for an alternative activity in the Fall

  • Opportunity - Provides more boys a chance to play a competitive team sport

  • Inclusive - Prior experience not required with skills  acquired through hands on participation and teamwork

  • Scalable - Can accommodate 10 to 20 boys per team and multiple teams

  • Safe - Based on studies, volleyball has a measurably lower concussion rate compared to football

Already a VHSL Approved Sport Played in Virginia

Boys volleyball is a recognized and sanctioned FALL sport by the Virginia High School League (VHSL). It is currently a varsity sport at 73 Virginia high schools in downstate regions with smaller populations than Northern Virginia.

  • Virginia Beach / Hampton Roads - Played in 42 High Schools across 4 districts: Beach District (11), Eastern District (8), Southeastern District (10), Peninsula District (9),  and Private Schools (4). The region has 23% of Virginia’s population with 1.7M residents.
  • Richmond - Played in 31 High Schools across 5 districts: Capital District (9), Central District (6), Colonial District (9), Dominion District (6), and Three Rivers District (1). The region has 17% of Virginia’s population with 1.3M residents.
  • Northern Virginia - There are currently zero High Schools with fall varsity boys volleyball programs.  The region has 40% of Virginia’s population with 3.0M residents.

Already an Established Local High School Activity

The unaffiliated Northern Virginia High School Boys Volleyball League (NVHSBVL) includes boys from high schools across Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Arlington County and Alexandria City.

NVHSBVL Fall 2018 Teams

  • Fairfax: Chantilly HS, Falls Church HS, Lake Braddock SS, Madison HS, McLean HS, South Lakes HS, West Potomac HS, West Springfield HS, Woodson HS
  • Loudoun: Briar Woods HS, Tuscarora HS
  • Alexandria: TC Williams

Other schools attended by NVHSBVL boys (any boy is allowed to play on any team)

  • Fairfax:  Centreville HS, Fairfax HS, Herndon HS, Justice HS,  Langley HS, Marshall HS, Mount Vernon HS, Oakton HS, Westfield HS
  • Loudoun: Broad Run HS, Heritage HS, Loudoun Valley HS, Riverside HS, Rock Ridge HS, Stone Bridge HS, Woodgrove HS
  • Arlington: Wakefield HS, Washington-Lee HS, Yorktown HS

Strong Support Infrastructure

Several existing entities will provide the support infrastructure to grow and sustain High School Boys Volleyball

  • Large Coaching Pool - The region currently has a large pool of experienced coaches for the 400+ existing competitive youth teams with many willing to coach a boys team once officially available through high schools
  • Feeder Leagues - The NoVA Boys Volleyball League (ES & MS) plus several other local co-ed youth volleyball programs will feed players and coaches to high school teams
  • Club Teams - Three local USA Volleyball travel clubs (BRYC, Arlington Elite, Western Loudoun)  already support boys teams with several of the other 30+ NoVA clubs considering adding boys teams once officially available through high schools
  • University Programs - Local universities such as Marymount and GMU are committed to supporting the effort through development and educational programs to include providing guidance on collegiate volleyball opportunities
  • Fund Raising GroupsMotor MVB (national) and NoVA Volleyball Alliance (local)  are committed to raising any necessary funds and providing volunteer support to start-up and grow high school boys volleyball

Minimal Start-Up and Sustaining Costs

With schools already supporting girls volleyball, the start-up cost for High School Boys Volleyball would be comparatively low with fund raising planned to minimize on-going costs.

Fixed Start-Up Costs

  • Fund raising covers: new volleyballs (boys nationally use microfiber composite balls) and all other start-up expenses
  • High schools already own key volleyball infrastructure such as gyms and volleyball net systems
  • Cost to schools: Zero

Costs After Club Status

  • Participant fees & fund raising cover coaches and referees, team apparel and all other non-school expenses
  • High schools cover required insurance and existing student services (athletic training, transportation, etc.)
  • Cost to schools: Minimal

Costs After Varsity Status

  • Fund raising covers team apparel and another other non-school expenses, some can be shared with girls volleyball
  • High schools cover required insurance, existing services, and coaches and referees
  • Cost to schools: similar to adding one more girls volleyball team

Proposed Path to Official School Status

Below is a possible path to varsity status.  The timeline through the final step is expected to take 4 to 6 years.

Step 1 – Club Status

  • Start with school districts granting official club status
  • Focus first on teams already active in the NVHSBVL from Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington and Alexandria
  • Continue playing under the NVHSBVL central model including both club and non-club teams

Step 2 – Growth Period

  • Expand the program as additional schools form club teams
  • Evaluate and refine as needed
  • Gradually transition to the same district/region model used by girls volleyball

Step 3 – Varsity Status

  • Once the varsity hurdle is achieved (see below), elevate to official varsity status
  • Disband the NVHSBVL and operate boys volleyball the same as girls volleyball
  • Participate in VHSL championship tournaments against other Virginia teams

Proposed Varsity Hurdle: Apply for varsity status once 50% or more of a county’s high schools have sustained boys club teams for 2 or more years.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about High School Boys Volleyball.

Q1. How will gyms be shared with girls volleyball?

A1. Schools in Richmond and VA Beach have worked this out with boys practicing before/after girls and boys home matches scheduled on days when girls are playing away.  Most NoVA schools already successfully share gyms with girls and boys basketball teams during the winter season, with some utilizing local MS gyms.

Q2. Are there enough coaches for boys teams?

A2. With volleyball coaches already covering 80+ high schools, 200+ club volleyball teams and countless recreational league teams, there is a deep pool of available coaches in Northern Virginia.  Advocacy groups such as the NoVA Volleyball Alliance are committed to locating coaches to support boys teams.

Q3. Do Boys Need to Practice 5 Days Per Week?

A3. Not required.  Most NVHSBVL teams practice 2 to 3 times per week.  This has also benefited boys teams by bringing in volunteer coaches not yet prepared to commit to 5 practices per week.

Q4. What benefit could school club status bring?

A4. With school club status, boys volleyball would be officially recognized as a school activity, gain priority access to school gyms and equipment (after the girls), appear in the school yearbook, and receive varsity letters.

Q5. Will another boys sport violate Title IX?

A5. The current set of sports approved by VHSL has been in place for many years.  The high schools in the Richmond and VA Beach areas are running boys volleyball along with all the other approved VHSL sports without Title IX concerns.

Q6. Do boys have to be from the same school?

A6. Currently, the NVHSBVL allows boys from any school to play on any team.  After switching to club status, only boys from the school will be allowed on the school’s team. During that period, NVHSBVL will attempt to form non-club teams of boys who do not attend a school with a defined club team.

Q7. Can teams from private schools join?

A7. During the club transition period, private schools can run club teams in the NVHSBVL league. Once varsity, private schools can play in their existing district formats with cross-over matches against public school teams.  This is the model currently used in the VA Beach area.