Boys volleyball as a varsity sport in the Minnesota State High School League is in a holding pattern right now, postponing its proposed first season until 2022.

Currently, there are 57 programs across the state in seven different conferences based on location, up from 22 teams in 2018. Chaska was one of 13 new teams expected to begin this spring along with Benilde-St. Margaret, Mound-Westonka-Orono-Delano and Burnsville.

At the April 24 Board of Directors meeting, MSHSL officials said teams are still very interested in becoming a League-sponsored sport. The sport received nine of 16 regions' support, thus moving to the general rep assembly June 1.

"We have a base of students that deserve this," Jon Ekstrom, athletic director at North Branch, said.

Boys volleyball is looking at a shorter spring season to accommodate the need for gym space for many spring sports. They anticipate an April 1 start date each season.

"I've engaged with people that are running boys volleyball. We have a ton of support from current families," Russ Reetz, Prior Lake athletic director, said.

Some have questioned the decision to run boys volleyball as a spring sport, going up against baseball, lacrosse, track and field, golf, and tennis. Todd Waterbury of Mankato East High School reminded directors that just because a sport is available in the MSHSL, not every school has to offer it if they deem the numbers won't work.

Among board concerns was a state tournament location; financially, the girls volleyball tournament breaks even each year at the Xcel Energy Center. A boys tournament at the same venue would result in a major loss.

"We would not demand a venue like where the girls play, like the Xcel Energy Center," Reetz said. Shakopee High School has identified themselves as a potential state site to consider.

Asked if there would be a potential lawsuit by parents, such as in girls hockey (Ridder Arena vs. Xcel Energy Center) and dance (boys being allowed on teams), the consensus is not now, but down the road there is no certainty.

Additionally, with the cancellation of spring sports, MSHSL spring coaches are allowed to continue working with students virtually until May 29.

Coaches may:

  • Connect with participants via electronic communication (i.e. email, social media or school-approved communication tools).
  • Provide optional individual workouts or optional individual skills training via electronic communication.
  • Connect with and support participants who are challenged by the changes caused by COVID-19 limitations and restrictions.
  • Conduct virtual end of season activities like virtual exit interviews and virtual banquets.

Coaches must:

  • Include the Activities Administrator on all communication to participants.

Coaches may not:

  • Have in-person contact with participants.
  • Require or suggest groups of participants to gather.
  • Suggest or support "captain’s practices" or "open gyms."
  • Conduct tryouts or provide evaluations or feedback on participants’ performance (i.e. receive, accept or require participants to submit video of a skill or performance).
  • Require participants to take part in individual workouts or skills training, etc. (i.e. journaling, reporting of time spent, submission of results).
  • Place undue influence on participants to take part in any individual workouts or skills training.

The no-contact period for coaches and athletes is shortened from seven days to three days, now July 3-5. The coaching waiver for summer workouts is extended by one week, now June 1 through Aug. 7.

SILVER LININGS

Want to know one way the stay-at-home has been a positive for the Chaska Town Course?

Course officials acknowledged the social distancing work of Tom Marsnik, Jeff Johnson, Todd Standbrook, Voigt Lenmark, Jay Klovstad, Chad Cliff, and Einar Frobom. These guys spent many hours on many days throughout the stay-at-home order out on the course filling divots on the fairways.

"Together they tackled every hole on the course and put down well over 200 five-gallon buckets of sand. Anyone who has played this year can see the difference it has made. Way to go guys, we appreciate your efforts!" the course said in an e-mail.

QUICK HITS

BRYAN DAHL, head coach of the Chaska Hawks football team, was named the 2019 Class 5A Coach of the Year by the Minnesota Football Coaches Association. "Incredibly grateful to have Coach Dahl as a teacher, coach, mentor, and leader in our Chaska Hawks school community!" Activities Director Jon Summer said.

JOSH LUEDTKE, a former state champion defenseman for Minnetonka Hockey, has switched his commitment from Denver University to St. Cloud State University. He will join former Skipper teammate Joe Molenaar.

MAGGIE NICHOLSON was selected as Minnetonka's Athena Award winner for 2020. She is a four-year letter-winner and captain for the girls hockey team. She helped lead the Skippers to back-to-back Section 2AA championships in 2019 and 2020. Nicholson will play at the University of Minnesota.

SOUTHWEST CHRISTIAN HIGH SCHOOL announced more athletes headed to collegiate sports programs. Ava Thiewes will play softball at Crown College. "She has been a great asset to our team as our MVP, most versatile player. She has been our most consistent hitter and is a vital part of our team," Coach Heidi Larkin said.

Madeleine Lemkuil will continue playing volleyball next year at Calvin University. "Maddie has a very high volleyball IQ and a wide array of attacks in her arsenal. I’m excited to track her success at the next level," said Coach Greg Sayuk.

Jeremiah Konkel will rejoin Stars teammate Nic Gustafson next season with the Willmar Warhawks in the third tier of the North American Hockey League. "Jeremiah was a huge part of our program's growth to put the Stars on the map. Our staff wishes him the best of luck as he enters the next step in his journey," Coach Erik Westrum said.

Track and cross country runner Mason Beise committed to Wisconsin-Stout. "Mason shows leadership qualities and maturity beyond his years. He applies lessons learned to his life with wisdom, grace, gratitude and a great sense of humor," Coach Shani Johnson said.

Speaking of commitments, three CHASKA ATHLETES announced their decisions last week in state relay champion swimmer Luke Ridler (University of St. Thomas), baseball pitching ace Charlie Dardis (Wisconsin-La Crosse) and two-time state wrestling qualifier Sam Wolff (Central College).

TREY PRINCE, former Chanhassen basketball standout, was named Mr. Defense for the Hamline Men's Basketball team for the 2019-20 season. "Trey was often tasked with guarding teams' top scorers. Trey, with his high motor and drive, quickly became known as our team's defensive specialist. He guarded 5/10 of the league's top scorers! Congratulations Trey!" the coaching staff said.

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