Colorado boys’ volleyball teams stand strong despite lack of CHSAA accreditation

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Photo - Doherty High School is trying to bring back boys volleyball into the high schools on Tuesday January 30, 2017 in Colorado Springs. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).
Doherty High School is trying to bring back boys volleyball into the high schools on Tuesday January 30, 2017 in Colorado Springs. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).

Nancy Holm has had one mission since 1996 - get boys’ volleyball approved as a high school sport in Colorado.

Unfortunately for Holm and the rest of the Colorado Boys High School Volleyball Association, state accreditation is still a ways down the road since the Legislative Council shot down the proposal to open boys’ volleyball as a sanctioned sport in April.

But that doesn’t stop Doherty High School and at least 12 other Pikes Peak-region teams from building a program.

Holm has been at the helm of the boys’ volleyball program at Doherty since her son Chad was a freshman at the school in 1996. She has watched it grow into a competitive club sport, which last year had 50 teams compete across the state.

Tuesday Doherty hosted its second of three boys’ volleyball open gyms before tryouts begin in mid-February, kicking off the Spartans’ 22nd season.

“We had nine teams that first year, and we’ve been going ever since,” Holm said. “Unfortunately I’m the only one still with it from that original group because I made a commitment to see it through to sanctioning. I thought by the time my son was a senior, it would be sanctioned because it’s a logical, lifetime sport, but we’ve hit roadblock after roadblock after roadblock.”

Holm, who at 68 years old competes for the Colorado Senior Volleyball Association, organizes tournaments, helps the CBHSVA schedule events, assign officials and start additional high school club programs, has led the fight for boys’ volleyball in Colorado.

Her work helps keep programs like Doherty afloat since the team does not receive funding from the school due to its club status.

“The kids pay a higher sports fee than they otherwise would here at Doherty,” she said.

According to Holm, Doherty boys' volleyball players pay $120 to cover seasonal fees for the club program.

“Luckily I’ve had good relationships with the athletic directors here at Doherty and they allow us to use the gym, but the boys still have to pay for everything.”

Holm said the tournaments she organizes bring in around $1,500 to alleviate some of the costs.

“But it’s still not enough to pay coaches and do everything I’d like to do,” she said.

The Doherty club team is  being coached by volunteers Bruno and Erika Chateau, former professional volleyball players. Bruno, who coaches with a heavy French accent, is a volunteer coach for the Colorado College women’s team.

In 22 years Holm has seen boys’ volleyball get voted down by the Colorado High School Activities Association on three separate occasions. But last week’s CHSAA Legislative Council meeting set the foundation for boys’ volleyball to finally become a sanctioned sport in Colorado.

The Legislative Council set forth a new process for adding activities and sports by first approving the activity as a pilot program. The council will look at the “longevity and history of the activity, support from the activity's governing body, ability to host a coach's clinic on skills and safety, adequate number of officials,” according to the CHSAA website.

And the Colorado Boys High School Volleyball Association is well equipped for the piloting process requirements.

Mike Prusinowski, the athletic director at James Irwin and the president of the CBHSVA said he hopes the new pilot program will point the sport in the right direction for accreditation.

“They outlined the steps we have to take, and the specific direction we have to go before we are sanctioned,” Prusinowski said. “That’s our ultimate goal, and without letting last April discourage us, we will be taking those specific steps.”

According to Prusinowski, 13 area schools have confirmed that they will have a boys’ volleyball team this year, and more could be on the way.

Cheyenne Mountain, The Classical Academy, Doherty, Coronado, Falcon, Rampart, Colorado Springs School, Colorado Springs Christian School, James Irwin, Sand Creek, St. Mary’s (brand new to CBHSVA), Vanguard and Fountain Valley all have teams in place.

Prusinowski said he is unsure if boys’ volleyball can be entered into the program immediately, but he thinks the league holds all the cards for a proper accreditation.

“We’ve been running for more than 20 years. Last year we had 50 schools involved, and we have six or seven brand new schools added to the league this year,” Prusinowski said. “It looks like we fit into all of those categories, but that would be up to the board of directors to decide.”