Holy Cross champs of Catholic boys’ volleyball league
This fall, school moderators from Brother Martin, Holy Cross and Jesuit – with the help of Bruce White of the White Sands Volleyball Complex in Metairie – formed the inaugural Catholic volleyball league.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association does not field a volleyball program for boys’ schools.
Beginning in September, the three schools played a round-robin schedule that combined double and quad formats, said Holy Cross player Seth Braquet. Teams accumulated points based on the results of individual matches, which led to the playoff seeding.
The playoffs were held Nov. 10 at White Sands in Metairie, and teams competed in doubles in three levels of competition – Divisions A, B and C – with players grouped by experience and talent.
Brother Martin won Division A, while Holy Cross captured Divisions B and C as well as the overall league championship.
“I have played and currently referee in a standard Coconut Beach league, and the differences between that and the Catholic League are vivid,” said Brother Martin’s Danny Spring.
Spring said the atmosphere in the Catholic league, while competitive, “encourages players and allows them to be confident.”
He said White and Brother Martin coach Brett Napier stressed “the importance of teamwork and fundamentals” and worked to create schedules, acquire uniforms and spark team spirit.
“(I) learned a lot about the values of teamwork from coach Napier and Mr. Bruce,” said Brother Martin player Austin Bourgeois.
Throughout Catholic league matches, referees focused their attention on developing the potential of players and their character.
Even while refereeing the games, the officials offered pointers to the players “on how to hit properly.” The referees even complimented the players after making a sustained rally.
Brother Martin teammate Zack Ward described the club as “a great experience.”
“It is a great club sport that not many people know about, and I would like to see more people get involved,” Ward said.
Each of the three schools had fledgling teams that scrimmaged at school first and then scrimmaged other schools before the fall league took shape.
Braquet said he first organized a club beach volleyball team for Holy Cross in 2013-14. He asked Dr. Katherine Schilling, a Holy Cross biology teacher, to be a faculty sponsor. Then tryouts were held for a team to bring in members, and uniforms and equipment were designed and purchased.
“The first year’s practices were mostly working on the basic fundamentals while teaching beginners the rules and how the game is played,” Braquet said. “There were only a few scrimmage games against Brother Martin. I knew that this would have to change the following year.”
The second year of Holy Cross Beach Volleyball ramped up with the inaugural high school beach volleyball fall season, led by Brother Martin’s coach.
“This league has been an amazing experience, and a great way to stay active,” Spring said. “I cannot wait for the spring season. Beach volleyball is much bigger than people think, and it would be great to see this club grow to be the same size as other sports and clubs.”
A new season is anticipated in the spring 2015 with additional teams. Other schools had expressed interest in the fall beach volleyball league but had conflicts with football and other fall sports, Braquet said.
Seniors Holy Cross’ Seth Braquet and Brother Martin’s Danny Spring contributed to this story.