Men’s volleyball finishes first season as a club sport

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Anna Waskey

“Men’s volleyball is on the rise!” declared head coach Bekah Brooks. This is the first year Franklin High School (FHS) has offered men’s volleyball; for now, it is played only as a club sport. The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) will need to determine how many schools are interested in order to establish it as a recognized conference-level sport. 

Is it here to stay, though? 

“It gives another men’s sport in the spring and allows the sport to grow. I think if we start talking it up more, we’ll get more numbers,” Brooks explained. 

Aside from the obvious differences of men playing the sport as opposed to women, Brooks identified several other distinctions. 

“I coach [the men] with a much more relaxed style. I try to teach and coach the simple things like skills and how the game works,” Brooks elaborated. 

In any sport, teamwork is a significant skill players must learn. 

“Volleyball is a game of mistakes and momentum. Guys are usually quicker at picking up skills but sometimes struggle with the scheme of the game and the teamwork side of it,” Brooks said. 

Additionally, the club practice is two days a week, as opposed to the women’s team, which practices five days a week. 

KADEN MARTINI makes a serve in a recent, end-of-season game for the FHS men’s club volleyball team.

“Men’s volleyball does not have as many volleys as women’s and there is very little ‘bump, set, spike’ like in the women’s game, but that will come with time,” she added. 

Two techniques on which the men’s team did focus were serving and passing, which are key aspects to the game. 

Due to games being played as a club versus NCHSAA-recognized sport, Brooks had to overcome some difficulties. In high school sports, students must be on their best behavior, both in and out of the classroom. This means their grades must be satisfactory, they must follow school rules, and exhibit dependability. 

Brooks explained that one difficulty of men’s volleyball being a club sport versus an NCHSAA-recognized sport was not being able to hold students accountable for their commitment. 

“Unlike club level, a conference-level sport is something on which you can bank on your players showing up, being on time, maintaining good grades, etc. Holding important stuff [like that] over their head is hard to do as a club while trying to start a program, make things fun, and still win,” she said.

Thirteen players make up the FHS roster this first year; “It’s a pretty great place to start!” declared Brooks. 

THIRTEEN PLAYERS make up the Franklin High School men’s club volleyball roster this first year.

Juggling Coaching and Life

Brooks has had a busy year juggling year-round coaching duties with family time. “I’ve been running my family to and from events, getting to their games or matches, and being a mama to a kindergartner and a 3-year-old. Let’s just say family is everything, and I wouldn’t do my job if I couldn’t have them as a part of it,” Brooks said.

As Brooks puts her family first, it is important that her teams support that approach. 

“The girls, and now the boys, have been so accepting of my kids; I just took three of them to the last men’s game at Pisgah High School.”

Coaching requires a great deal of support, and Brooks takes pride in the amount that she has from players. 

“It takes a village, and I live in the best village!”

Brooks began coaching volleyball when she was 20 years old. She has coached middle school, junior varsity, varsity women, and now men’s volleyball. Since 2018, she has been the head coach of FHS varsity women’s volleyball.

She has also coached basketball, but volleyball remains her passion. 

“I knew at a young age I wanted to be a physical education teacher and through all my sports I have just had the drive to be a coach. I also have had the desire to love kids and be a small impact in their lives.” 

Competitively natured, Brooks knew she had to work where she could be active. Important people in her life helped guide her to be a coach and showed her that it was where she belonged. 

“Seeing the kids grow and learn and trust the process is simply amazing. Coaches wear many hats. We are coach, mentor, councelor, parent, disciplinarian, listener, doctor, preacher, and more. I love a challenge, I love kids, and that is why I coach,” she concluded.

The first year of men’s club volleyball was a winning one; they finished up the regular season at the end of April with a 4-3 record.

Anna Waskey is an honors student at Franklin High School.