Despite obstacles, Skyline boys volleyball club keeps going strong
Mar 06, 2019 03:15PM
● By Josh McFadden
The Skyline boys volleyball club doesn’t have the benefits sanctioned sports do, but the players have worked hard to become one of the best squads in the state. (Photo courtesy of Josh Henderson)
By Josh McFadden | firstname.lastname@example.org
Currently, the Utah High School Activities Association sanctions 17 sports — with one more (lacrosse) on the way next school year — but boys volleyball isn’t one of them.
That hasn’t stopped Skyline from putting together a successful club.
The Skyline boys volleyball club consists of two teams and 18 players. Head coach Josh Henderson is in his fifth year leading the club. He said this well-established club was around long before he arrived. He’s happy with this year’s turnout but wishes he had a few more participants.
“We’d like to have three full teams so we can put kids in the right skill level and development,” he said.
Henderson has a solid group of members who have played club ball for six seasons. He also has four players who are participating on a team for the first time ever. Ideally, he would have what is equivalent to a freshman/sophomore team, a junior varsity team and a varsity team. As it is, he has a Gold team and a Silver team. His Gold team was second in the state tournament last season and consists of six seniors and two sophomores.
The club competes against other clubs throughout the Salt Lake Valley. Gold teams play only Gold teams, and Silver teams play only Silver teams. There’s also a Bronze division where Henderson hopes to eventually have a squad. Volleyball clubs are run through Salt Lake County. Over a two-month season, the clubs play 14 regular season games, followed by a region tournament and then a state tournament; the latter is only for Gold division teams.
Without sanctioned status, Skyline and other clubs run into some difficulties.
“The biggest challenge is finding gym time for practice,” he said. “It’s hard to get time in the high school gym.”
The Eagles currently practice once a week at a junior high and another time during the week at a church. Club members have to pay to rent the playing space.
Henderson said he also has to contend with other sports for players. He said several other boys are interested in coming out for the club, but the spring schedule conflicts with their commitments to baseball, soccer or lacrosse. Some of his players are on the Skyline boys tennis team and have to miss time on the volleyball court in favor of time on the tennis court. Other players join the season late once basketball season ends.
Still, Henderson likes his group and is optimistic about the Eagles’ chances.
“We have a good group of returning boys,” he said. “We have good continuity.”
Henderson highlighted three of his seniors in particular: outside hitter Kyler Osguthorpe, libero Jake McDonald and outside hitter Tim Lont. Osguthorpe has played for four years. Henderson likes his versatility and the fact he can also play middle and opposite hitter positions. McDonald is a three-year player who leads the defense and is one of the team’s best serve-receive passers. Second-year player Lont is one of the best outside hitters in the league, Henderson said.
Henderson also loves the play of sophomore Quade Sorenson.
“[Sorenson] will be instrumental in the team’s success this year,” he said. “As the setter, he is in charge of running our offense. Along with setting, Quade has an imposing block that frustrates many outside hitters.”
With a unique blend of experienced players and total newcomers, Henderson said he’ll spend most of the first part of the season working on some basic elements of the game.
“The first month of the season will be a focus on fundamentals and technique,” he said.
Henderson said he also wants to do a better job promoting the club at school and in the community. He hopes this will increase participation as well as make other people more aware of the club and the achievements the boys have made. .
The Eagles get the season underway the first week of March.