Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Pressure spikes

Boys Volleyball pushes through challenges
Pressure+spikes

As school was released, the boys volleyball team scrambled into friends’ cars and mom’s minivans. With only an hour and a half to get to a game an hour away, they were pushing it. Due to a lack of funding for non-UIL sports, the players would have to find their own ride there. Barrelling into each car, the team peeled out of the school parking lot. Quickly, they jolted to a stop. They weren’t fast enough to beat the after-school traffic. Even being able to leave five minutes earlier would’ve saved them time, but “non-sports activities” don’t get that luxury. Eyes darted for closer exits. There were none.

Rush-hour traffic made it impossible to get there on time. After getting lost throughout the maze-like hallways they rushed to the locker room, shoveling on their raggedy hand-me-down jerseys. With barely any time to warm up, they made it onto the court. They had missed all their chances to prepare before the game.

Fans for Decatur High School filed in row by row. The team looked to the home side to see people banging cowbells and shaking pom poms – cheering on their competition. But the visitors’ side was sparse as only a handful of parents were able to make the commute. The team tried to shake off the pre-game jitters. But when the game started, the players stood stiff as their competition slammed the ball over the net, again and again. The opposing team slouched, unfazed after every point. The players watched as the ball smacked onto the gym floor too fast to react. The sound of roaring fans and banging cowbells echoed. The opposing team smiled and stood with a shrug. Smack. Decatur scored again. Players watched as their competition celebrated, one player doing a cartwheel.

They lost the game. Despite all of this, they keep trying.

***

The boys volleyball club was first started in 2022 by junior Joseph Harb. Harb started the club because the nearest option for him to play on a team was 30 minutes away in Carrollton, where the skill was too advanced.

“If I wanted to play, I had to make one here,” Harb said. “It’s the only place we can play the sport.”

Once the group was formed, Harb found that there were many more problems than he once anticipated. For it to be associated with the school, they needed a sponsor. This would also allow them to reserve gym time when it wasn’t in use by UIL sports. Astronomy teacher Jacqueline Felan was able to step in to sponsor and coach the team, meaning Harb could make it a club.

Once starting the club, the team didn’t know where to compete, until Harb found the Texas Boys High School Volleyball League (TBHSV). The league is comprised of five districts across Texas with seven teams opposing Marcus. 

The game against Decatur had been the low point of the season. The team knew that they could do better. They had already come far from where they were months before, but skill issues were still prevalent. 

“We were down but we were strengthened to do better,” player Hayden Woodson said. “We had drive after that.”

Nearly three weeks passed as the team prepared for their next game. Juan Seguin School had a similar reputation to Decatur with its winning streak. With Juan Seguin’s program having existed twice as long as Marcus, they had a lot of competition. Anxious but excited, they went out on the court, knowing that no matter what happened they would keep pushing for success.

The team was able to win a set and bring the game against varsity into overtime.

“Even when we lost we made progress,” Woodson said.

It was clear that with each game they were improving. The team’s progress was noticed by Juan Seguins’ coach who congratulated them on coming so far in only six months. 

The boys volleyball team has shown significant growth in this year’s season. With the small number of resources given, they have been able to improve drastically. But at a certain point, they have issues that they can’t fix on their own. Being considered a club has given them a whole new set of issues. 

Juan Seguin High School has had the same problems as Marcus. All boys volleyball teams in the state go without funding. This leads to no prioritized gym time, worn-down jerseys, a lack of equipment and resources, and no transportation for games an hour away. These issues exist because, in Texas, boys volleyball is not currently considered a UIL sport. The Texas Boys High School Volleyball (TBHSV) League wants to change that.

Boys volleyball is currently one of the top-growing sports in the nation with more teams popping up in Texas. President of the TBHSV League, Travis Ferguson, has seen the league grow from eight teams statewide to 37 in the past seven years.

Despite that growth, it pales in comparison to the number of teams for UIL sports such as football, which has over 1,500 teams in Texas.

Boys volleyball team huddles, preparing for game against Southlake Carroll on March 31, 2023. Photo Colby Murray

For boys volleyball to be a high school sport in the state of Texas, participation has to be up. Increasing participation has been difficult for teams due to not a lot of people knowing about local teams.

So far without resources, teams around the state have been able to improve and build communities without any support. 

Senior Daniell Carlos has seen the effects of the lack of support for the team.

“A lot of the kids do feel like they’re working hard but it’s like they’re going unnoticed for it,” Carlos said.

The league has provided a way to bring together and support boys volleyball. Ferguson says that increased support and promotion by schools are crucial for success.

“It’s hard for someone to support you if they don’t know that you’re there,” Ferguson said. 

The goal of the TBHSV is to grow the league as much as possible until the state can take over. Currently, the league is planning to go down to Austin for the second year in a row to propose making boys volleyball a UIL sport and request sanctioning. Although the number of teams in the state is too niche for the statewide organization, this proposal also keeps track of progress made.

Once becoming an officially sanctioned sport, the school and district have the option of adopting and funding that sport. As a result, boys volleyball would be able to get a class period, coaches, money to pay for uniforms, equipment, buses and more.

Boys volleyball currently practices for hours a week, has games and state tournaments, and still isn’t taken seriously as a sport. Despite the hard work put in by players who want to succeed, change won’t happen for many years. 

Other sports that aren’t in the majority such as hockey and lacrosse don’t receive benefits either. Water polo formally had these issues but recently became a UIL sport. Without the same opportunities as other sports, these teams have still prevailed.

The hope for boys volleyball and other sports that aren’t recognized is that they are able to have opportunities that they formally have not. 

“If [boys volleyball] was a sport, it would take a lot of weight off of my shoulders,” Harb said.



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About the Contributor
Emily Couch, Reporter
Emily Couch (she/her) is a senior and is excited for her first year as a staff member for the Marquee! She appreciates good movies, writing of course, ceramics, painting and reading. Storytelling is one of her favorite things and she looks forward to telling the many stories of others this year for the marquee. :)

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