Sophomore Advocates For Boys’ Volleyball

Logan Couture, Staff Writer

As sophomore volleyball Alex Pollan sits in the backseat of his mom’s car on his triweekly two-hour car drive to Wintergreen. He looks down at his unfinished math homework and sighs. Pollan, a sophomore, is a USA Volleyball 2021 National Champion, a member of the USA National Team Development Program and a current player for an Orlando team, Winter Park Volleyball Club.

Pollan’s success in volleyball continued despite the fact that there are no boys’ club teams in Brevard. The school system does not support boys’ volleyball either, but Pollan says he tolerates the long drives while recognizing that they should not be necessary to play his sport.

“For the eight years I’ve been playing boys’ volleyball, I’ve always had to drive to Orlando to play,” Pollan said. “It is really frustrating at times because I know that the district could allow West Shore to have a team, but they don’t. I’ve been trying very actively since seventh grade to try and bring boys’ volleyball back in at least West Shore. [Principal Rick] Fleming really wants volleyball too. But there is a problem at the county level adding it, and they’re completely dragging their feet to add the sport back.”

Pollan’s difficulties stem from Title IX, a federal law mandating that institutions, including BPS, sponsoring athletic programs must provide equal athletic opportunities for members of both sexes.

“The Brevard School District has a rule that there must be an equal number of boys and girls sports at each high school,” Pollan said. “For most of Brevard’s schools, the balance is equal. “But for West Shore, a school that doesn’t have football, the boys have one less team, which leaves a spot for boys’ volleyball. If the county made an exception for West Shore or just allowed all schools to have the sport, I would finally be able to practice in the district.” 

BPS shut down the boys’ volleyball program in the early 2000s. However, in 2022 alone, six new states began high school boys’ volleyball programs, making the total number 32. On the university level, two college conferences, the Division I Northeast Conference and Division II Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, have added men’s volleyball in the past two years.

“Boys’ volleyball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the nation,” Pollan said. “I personally know multiple kids just at West Shore who really want to play volleyball. I’m sure there’s an interest in other schools too. There’s a couple of guys who live in Brevard that used to play competitively with me in Orlando, so I know there are others like me. I think BPS should notice that boys’ volleyball is more popular now than it was two decades ago and make the decision to change the system.”

For male students interested in volleyball who are unable to make the long drives out of county to play, West Shore’s boys’ volleyball club is oftentimes the only place they can play the game in an organized fashion. The club was created last year by students.

Junior Asher Carver, a long-time member, recalls his thoughts when he first joined.

“Before I decided to join, I had a serious interest in volleyball,” Carver said, “but because the school didn’t have a team, I thought I wouldn’t have an opportunity to play because I couldn’t find a boys club team anywhere nearby. When I learned some [seventh-graders] had started a volleyball club, I joined with some friends who were also interested, and, since then, I’ve been pretty active. In the last month we’ve seen a big increase in new players, and I think we’re at around 20 members, more than enough for a real team.”

Pollan said the club is not enough for competitive volleyball players, as he must continue to drive hours to play. Pollan explains how his constant out-of-county traveling affects his school life.

“Well, we know that West Shore is an extremely difficult school with a heavy workload,” Pollan said. “Honestly, it is pretty hard to keep up with my schoolwork and travel so far to play volleyball. “I have practices Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays from eight to ten, so with the drive time, on those days, I’m usually gone for more than 4 hours after school, so I’m not really able to work much on those days. It’s really difficult. I basically spend all my time at school doing schoolwork; there’s like no time for breaks or to really socialize, and even during lunch, I don’t even eat lunch I just do homework.

Despite these difficulties, Pollan remains optimistic about his volleyball career.

“I really do love volleyball, it has taught me so much,” he said. “And I do plan to play in college and possibly even professionally in the future. My overall goal would be to play in the Olympics, but that would be incredibly difficult, but I do think I can absolutely play Division I volleyball if I stay on my current track. Volleyball is the biggest motivator in my life, and it’s a shame other kids won’t experience it.”