BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — A spirited effort was not enough to convince representatives of the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) that boys volleyball should be an officially sanctioned varsity sport.
On Tuesday the MSHSL representative assembly voted 29-18 in favor of an amendment to add boys volleyball, narrowly missing the required two-thirds vote necessary to pass the measure. One representative abstained from voting.
Girls volleyball is one of the fastest-rising participation sports in the state, and supporters of adding boys volleyball in the spring pointed to the growth in the Minnesota Boys High School Volleyball Association. Organizers of the club-level association say there are currently 70 teams and more than 700 athletes playing boys volleyball, numbers they say are twice those of boys lacrosse when it was sanctioned by the MSHSL.
Despite impassioned pleas from the likes of U of M women's volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon and Minnesota first lady Gwen Walz, MSHSL representatives shot down the proposal, citing costs and complications of Title 9, that could force the addition of more girls programs to remain equitable.
McCutcheon told representatives that the current "duct tape and string" club system that depends on volunteers is unsustainable in its current form. North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District 622 Superintendent Michelle Yener asked voters to think beyond their own boundaries and support those who embrace boys volleyball. "Even if you don't intend to play in your community, please let us play in mine," she implored.
In a separate vote, representatives voted 44-4 to add sectional playoffs and a state tournament for girls wrestling beginning in the 2021-22 school year. MSHSL spokesman John Millea says female wrestlers will continue to train and compete with boys during the regular season, and will have the option of competing in a girls-only individual section/state tournament that would occur simultaneously with the boys postseason individual tournaments.