IRHS boys want volleyball

Date Published: 
Feb. 2, 2017

Volleyball for all! That’s what some students, parents and staff at Indian River High School are asking, as on Jan. 22, a group of boys and adults asked the Indian River School District’s Board of Education to allow creation of an IRHS boys’ volleyball team.

“We have the players, we have the facility, we have the equipment already because of the girls’ volleyball team. … We have other teams to play,” said Jim Barnes, IRHS girls’ volleyball head coach.

Now, they just need permission and some funding for transportation and officials.

Barnes said he, two other coaches and a referee have all volunteered their time (although pay would be preferred, at least for the referees and head coach). Barnes said a business sponsor would cover uniforms — helpful, since the IRSD has a moratorium on athletic uniforms in place until July.

It would be IRSD’s 10th spring sports team.

The school’s Jan. 19 interest meeting showed “an overwhelming and genuine interest by our students” to play, said parent Ginger Palmer. “Let’s give our boys an equal opportunity”

After serving three years as the girls’ team manager, student Michael Barnes — Coach Barnes’ son — said he wants to hit the court himself.

“I’ve been told I can’t pay on the girls’ team,” Michael Barnes said. “Both of the colleges I’m interested in attending have a boys’ volleyball team, and I would love to play there.”

IRHS Athletic Director Todd Fuhrmann later explained to the Coastal Point why Michael Barnes couldn’t join the volleyball team, though female students can football and wrestle.

“Per DIAA regulations, males cannot participate in female sports. Females can participate in football and wrestling, as those can be viewed as co-participation sports,” Fuhrmann said.

With that restriction in place, the IR boys hope to form the 12th boys’ volleyball team in the state. With board approval, they could schedule 10 games this spring.

For now, Delaware only has “club” teams, until 16 teams can form an official division with Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA).

The school board made no comment on the request for a program. Most likely, a recommendation needs to come from the IRSD Finance Committee.

“The addition of any sport is an ongoing process that has many steps to achieve success or failure, and that process has just begun,” Fuhrmann said.

Coach Barnes also remarked that the three-year-old Selbyville Middle School program has provided a springboard for talent at the high school level, helping the IRHS girls to a 14-1 season and state tournament bid.

“Now we have a lot more respect from other schools that know about our volleyball team,” Barnes said.