One of my favorite nights of the year, the annual preseason coaches meeting brings everyone together in what feels like the true start of the volleyball season.
Harrison coach Candy Light once again hosted the event, which basically covered the Section 1 volleyball handbook, which can be found on the BOCES site. However, there were other, more important, matters that came up.
The highlighting topic of the evening was the discussion about boys playing on the varsity level with the girls. Several coaches acknowledged that they have boys trying out or already on their teams, which could create quite a fuss in the section.
As many of you recall, Yonkers senior boys volleyball player Jenson Daniel was at the center of a similar controversy, which drew national attention from several media outlets.
Daniel (below), was not allowed to participate on the girls team for his senior year, despite being allowed to play as a junior. Daniel’s appeal was denied.
Horace Greeley, under the direction of new coach and former Panas assistant Daniela Denis, announced that it will carry not one, but two boys on this year’s roster. Croton-Harmon coach Robin Cooke said that two boys tried out, but did not make the team because they exceeded the prerequisite requirements.
According to Cooke, there are several steps a boy must go through before being allowed to compete on a girls varsity roster, which are as follows:
- The male must first pass the “selective classification test,” which essentially determines if a boy is “too good” to play with the girls.
- If the male gets through that stage, his coach can then recommend that he play with the girls to the school’s athletic director.
- The male must then get a series of “OK’s” from school authorities — first the athletic director, then the principal, then the school board.
- If school officials feel the male can participate without being a danger to the female players, he must then see a special doctor to take a physical, which will determine whether a boy is “too strong” to play with the girls.
- If, when all is said-and-done, the boy gets through all of these steps, his case will go to Section 1 for the final ruling. The section can end the entire process with a simple, “No.”
Cooke, a Westchester Sports Hall of Fame inductee last season, said that the boys who tried out for her team were 5-foot-8 and 6-foot-2, adding that they were “too good” to play with the girls.
Several coaches agreed that it is noticeable if a boy is “holding back” or “faking it” during his tests in order to vie for a spot on the girls team. For the male athletes which are allowed to play, they can only play in the back row — eliminating any overly-powerful spikes and taking away a boy’s ability to block in the front row. As far as attire goes, all team members must wear matching uniforms. So if the girls wear spandex, the boys must wear spandex. Girls can also opt for the less-revealing soccer shorts, to make the boy feel more comfortable or less “exposed” on the court.
The increasing number of male athletes looking to play volleyball, it only shows how more Section 1 schools need to start adding a boys volleyball team, thereby avoiding any discrepancies with boys playing on girls teams.
As of last year, only four schools in the entire section had a boys volleyball program, all of which were in Rockland County — Suffern, Clarkstown South, Clarkstown North and East Ramapo.
This past Spring, Suffern boys volleyball coach Kim Cleary said that a couple of other schools in Westchester were looking to add teams, but would not comment on which ones, in particular.
At the meeting, Scarsdale coach Ann Marie Nee announced that each year, the Raiders get “five or six” guys who want to start a boys team. Nee suggested that any nearby schools which have a handful of male athletes want to play volleyball, combine with Scarsdale to form one team for the 2014 season.
Definitely something to keep an eye on in the future.
Moving on from boys volleyball, another topic brought up at the meeting were certain safety issues during the coarse of play, libero uniforms, as well as another very important issue which is still unconfirmed by coaches. All I can say is that it would be a significant change to each match.
I will post more information once I can confirm if the rumors are true or untrue.
Coaches also tried hammering out plans for this year’s Exceptional Seniors game, which will be run by Nanuet coach Jen Adams. New Rochelle coach Alyssa Patti volunteered to host the event, which will be held on November 23.
The date will allow representatives from teams who make the state semifinals, which will be held at the Glens Falls Civic Center from November 16-18, to participate.
Photo credit: Mark Vergari/The Journal News