A Growing Sport: Boys Volleyball Popularity Rising in Texas

Photo By Jamey Wright

Originally Appeared on VYPE

TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS FANS ARE AWARE – the Lone Star State's girls' volleyball is among the best – if not THE best – in the world.

Recently, there's been a movement for Texas high school boys' volleyball.

While the exact number isn't confirmed, there are less than 100 boys' Texas high school volleyball teams in existence today.

The Southwest Preparatory Conference has nine teams that include Episcopal, Kinkaid and St. John's in the Houston-area and St. Andrew's and St. Stephens in the Austin area. There are 20-30 more teams (mostly private schools) in the Dallas Metroplex area, but none are sanctioned by the University Interscholastic League (UIL). Compare that to over 1,200 UIL-sanctioned girls' teams.

The approach to high school boys' volleyball in Texas is the "club" space – a group of teams that play at the high school level, but in the private sector. Think lacrosse, which is sanctioned by the Texas High School Lacrosse League. Or hockey, which has a few club organizations.

Boys' volleyball has a lot of growing to do on a national scale. On the collegiate front, the NCAA has only 45 schools that compete.

"The boys' game has a ways to go," stated Butch Hart, the "Godfather" of Texas volleyball media. "There's some really good talent out there. In my opinion, Nathan Lietzke (St. Andrews High School; Austin Juniors Club Volleyball) is the best player in the state – he's going to Stanford on scholarship.

"The key to growing the boys' game will be finding a time period when they can play. Texas high school sports is packed – football in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball, track, soccer and lacrosse in the spring. There must be a time when you can get boys to play volleyball."


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Let him cook! Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rebuild. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr are studs. KPJ just signed a four-year extension with the team. Other guys like Jabari Smith Jr, Kenyon Martin Jr, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, and Jae'Sean Tate are really good pieces to surround Green and KPJ with. The only issue with this group: they're REALLY young! Tate is the elder statesman at 27 of the young nucleus. Most are barely old enough to buy a drink. Some still aren't old enough! They're a bunch of green bananas waiting to turn yellow to slightly brown and be ripe enough for consumption.

We need to give it time. Just like bananas, they take time to ripen. Coach Stephen Silas is known for developing young players. His most prized student is the star player for that team in South Oklahoma up 45. Number 77 for that team credited Silas with helping him realize his All-Pro potential while Silas was a part of the coaching staff there. To a man, all his former players credit him with being a positive influence on their careers. So why are fans in a rush to get rid of him?

When you look at the Rockets' record over the last few years, it's gross. Sure, they've been a lottery team the last couple of seasons, but that was by design. As part of the Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook trades, they gave away pick swap rights. Had they not been that bad, they wouldn't have been able to draft Green or Smith Jr. Those two guys are building blocks for the future, along with KPJ. Giving those picks away would've put this team further down the totem pole of developing themselves into a contender. Losing pays off when you can hit on high lottery picks.

If you give a chef dirt, bread, ham, molded cheese, and spoiled mayo, can you expect anything else but a nasty ham sandwich? How about if the chef was given a steak that is almost rotten, potatoes with root growth, and spoiled butter? Could you expect a better meal than the sandwich? Yes! However, that meal may still cause a stomachache. Now, give said chef a full complement of gourmet groceries and guess what you'll get?

This is why I say let Silas cook. He's the perfect coach for this group of kids. He can teach them all the fundamentals of the game at this level and help them grow into their full potential. If there's a change to be made on the sidelines, move Silas into a front office role, but DO NOT get rid of him! Guys like him are too valuable. Why do you think Mark Cuban hated losing him, but knew he couldn't retain him because he had a head coach already? Cuban knew what he had in Silas and what Silas did for Luka Doncic. He can do something similar for the Rockets if given the time to work his magic.

Should Tilman Fertita find the need to move on, I'd look for a more experienced coach who can guide them from bottom of the playoff ladder into top four in the West and real contenders. For now, Silas is the head chef. Continue giving him the groceries he needs, and he'll continue giving these kids the lessons they need to develop. Changing the coach now could stunt their growth. Let him cook!

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