I wanna play, too! (and other volley musings and comments)

While covering the North Coast Section Division IV match between Head-Royce and St. Joseph Notre Dame at Alameda High on May 15, I felt an urge to get on the court myself. Maybe I was feeling nostalgic, having played the game on an asphalt court during P.E. as a student at Alameda High during the days when what is now called the “historic” high school was the actual high school.
Or maybe it was just a mini-midlife crisis, with a milestone birthday – – The Big Five-Oh – – coming up next month. Or maybe it was just a sugar high kicking in from consuming the M & M’s a colleague had brought to the office earlier in the day.
Whatever the case, it had been a long time since I had last played (unless you want to count the times my kids, wife and I played a netless “game” in the house with the kids’ smiley-face miniature beach ball), and I felt a yearning to get in a few hits, digs, passes, sets and serves of my own.
High school kids today soon will enter an adult world with sky-high prices for housing and transportation. And higher education costs more than ever, too. But the high schoolers of today also enjoy certain privileges not afforded folks of my generation. Back in my high school years, for example, there were no volleyball teams for either boys or girls (the same applies to soccer).
Some weeks ago, I posted an entry wondering whether boys volleyball would catch on in Northern California the way it has in SoCal and perhaps some other locales. Some folks might have thought I was dissing the sport. What I was dumping on, though, was some of the prevailing attitudes surrounding the sport.
I’ve sat in packed gyms to cover girls postseason matches. I’ve yet to experience the same atmosphere at a boys match. For the record, Head-Royce and St. Joseph drew an enthusiastic and loud gathering. But both the Jayhawks and Pilots represent small schools and the match took place on a school night, so I can’t infer much from that. In addition, the Warriors were competing in the NBA playoffs the same night.
Still, when I see teams wearing what look like hand-me-down uniforms, I can only wonder whether the sport is receiving the funding and support it needs to flourish (again for the record, both the Pilots and Jayhawks were neatly attired, but I’m not sure if those teams are the rule or the exception).
Overall, boys volleyball is a great sport. It has a huge upside and a mountain of potential as a high school spectator sport. It screams to have the state title games girls volleyball has in the fall. It screams for respect.
But will it ever get it beyond what appears its cult following?