Despite being one of the most played sports in the world, boys volleyball has had very little representation in North Florida.
Girls’ teams in the area continue to dominate competitions, both in high school and college, but what about a boys team?
Until last year, a boys volleyball team for high school did not exist in the North Florida region. While it is all the rage in Central and South Florida, the high schools of Northern Florida only provided volleyball teams for girls.
This restriction did not stop students from dreaming of a high school boys volleyball team, and this year at Ponte Vedra High School that wish is finally coming true.
“We have a good group [of players] coming from middle school, but they come to high school and have no volleyball options,” said Tom Diab, a teacher and the new coach of the boys volleyball team at PVHS. Now, thanks to persistent parents and support from the Ponte Vedra community, they do.
Diab, a volleyball player in high school and college, began teaching at PVHS two years ago. When his students found out about his volleyball history, they begged him for the opportunity to play. So after being approached by the school’s athletic director and asked to start the new team, Diab did not hesitate.
“It is a historic time. If we can really get this going, we will have about six or seven high schools to play in the North Florida area,” said Diab. “We would have our own league and the state would recognize us as a division.”
The current roadblock for new members of the boys volleyball team at PVHS is that there is only one other boys team to play in the area, which is the St. Augustine high school, who also recently opened a boys team.
Out of the sixteen scheduled games set to begin in Feb. for the boys volleyball team, only two of them can legally be against St. Augustine. The other fourteen games require travelling to Ocala and Orlando.
“My goal is to convince Creekside’s athletic director, and Bartram’s athletic director, that it can be done without any extra burden on the department or the school,” said Diab.
The new team would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of people in the Ponte Vedra community, including parents of students and local businesses.
“The support has been outstanding,” said Diab, “more than I could ever imagine. Financially, mobility wise, physically. It’s amazing.”
Diab plans to work together with the new boys volleyball coach in St. Augustine to provide a united front in their attempt to get the division off the ground.
“Maybe in the future the Duval schools will follow suit, but right now our goal is to get our own county established,” said Diab.
With plenty of boys showing up to the initial meeting, and Diab there to coach them through their first practices, the February volleyball season is sure to be one for the records.