Push to sanction boys' volleyball squashed without discussion

Photo - Cody Kessel, a Palmer graduate, skied for a spike during a club contest. Kessel will play volleyball at Princeton next season. Photo by COURTESY OF THE KESSEL FAMILY

Cody Kessel, a Palmer graduate, skied for a spike during a club contest. Kessel will play volleyball at Princeton next season. Photo by COURTESY OF THE KESSEL FAMILY

AURORA - The push to sanction boys' volleyball didn't get off the ground at the Colorado High School Activities Association's Legislative Council meeting on Thursday.

Fifty-four percent of the legislative body voted against opening the Classification and League Organizing Committee report, thwarting the proposed amendment before it ever hit the floor.

"It was disappointing," said James Irwin athletic director Mike Prusinowski, who is the president of the Colorado Boys' High School Volleyball Association and was at the forefront of the amendment championed by the Tri-Peaks League.

"First time I've been involved with our league that something didn't even get to discussion on the floor," he said. "On my end, if we would have got to the discussion, and then got to a vote after that, then you have to accept that. But it's disappointing not to even share what's going on with the perspective on the sport."

The refusal came in a matter of moments following a long, tumultuous road for the leadership of the proposal.

The sanctioning initially received positive feedback after a survey sent out to athletic directors around the state in November showed that 200 of the 258 schools that responded were in favor of it.

The eventual decline, however, started when the association's equity committee did not support its sanctioning in a meeting in January. Their issue was the negative impact it would have on the proportionality between girls' and boys' high school sports in the state.

"Eighty-percent of the membership said that it would negatively affect or completely throw them out of compliance by adding the sport," said CHSAA assistant commissioner Bethany Brookens, who administers volleyball and oversees the equity committee for the association. "With that information the equity committee said that we could not recommend the addition of boys' volleyball."

The final nail in the coffin came Thursday - or maybe in the weeks leading up.

CHSAA's outgoing commissioner Paul Angelico said he believed the membership was pushed "too hard" from advocates - which included an alleged email sent to schools that predicted by name how each council member would vote based on the November survey, per chsaanow.com.

"The volleyball committee has published some stuff, got things out to schools that I think schools aren't feeling good about," Angelico told The Gazette. "And they're saying they aren't going to be pushed. It's our decision."

Angelico went on to say he didn't think boys' volleyball should be added.

"I think schools are saying enough. How many sports can we have?" he said. "They cut our budget every year, how do we add a sport? And quite frankly, this is Paul talking, why do we need a sport that is already being served at the club level in the schools? We want to add a sport, let's add something entirely new that a different kind of kid that's currently not participating could participate in."

Prusinowski said he was unaware of the alleged email. Doherty AD Chris Noll and Rampart AD Andy Parks, both supporters of the sport's sanctioning, said they were also unaware of it.

When The Gazette requested a copy of the email, CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann said CHSAA officials had seen the email but he was unaware of any officials having a copy of it Thursday evening.

If passed, boys' volleyball would have started in the spring of 2019.

The sport's advocates can try again at the legislative council meeting in January.

"We'll have to sit and talk to see where to go from here," Prusinowski said. "But I know from interest of the kids' sake there's definitely an interest there. I know there are some that feel that this is a big negative and whether it should be (continued). But to give those kids the opportunity there's definitely some interest in pursuing it for next year."