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Vote puts volleyball in for boys

Boys volleyball will soon join the roster of high school sports sanctioned by the Minnesota State High School League.

The league’s 48-member representative assembly approved the proposal Tuesday with 39 votes in favor. It needed 32 votes — a two-thirds majority — to pass.

“It’s pretty incredible. We’re elated,” said Jenny Kilkelly, president of the Minnesota Boys High School Volleyball Association, which has organized statewide competition as a club sport for several years and had been lobbying for sanctioned status.

Cloquet has fielded boys volleyball as a club sport since 2019. Proctor, Hermantown, Floodwood and Grand Rapids also have had teams for several years.

Cloquet head coach Kelsey Motzko said the news was “amazing.” There are 17 players on the boys volleyball team this spring, competing for the first time in a junior varsity and varsity format as a club. “It’s so gratifying to be recognized for all the hard work the coaches and boys have put in these past years to make it official,” she said.

Boys volleyball will become a sanctioned sport in Minnesota in the 2024-25 school year. The league still needs to decide what season boys volleyball will play.

Tuesday’s approval comes after efforts to sanction boys volleyball in Minnesota were blocked twice before — including by just a single vote in May 2022. Last fall, the league voted to approve it as an “emerging sport,” as a step toward sanctioned status.

The association said teams from 72 Minnesota high schools — including nearly 2,000 athletes — are participating in this spring’s season.

“For the 2,000 boys and all the boys that came before and played in the league prior to this year — we’re ecstatic for all of them,” Kilkelly said. “It becomes more accessible and more affordable to many, many kids — and there’s definitely a demographic of kids that have not necessarily found their sport, and this happens to be their sport.”

Minnesota Public Radio News contributed to this story. Find more statewide news with local impact at mprnews.org.