Minnesota had the talent and the passion to thrive in high school boys’ volleyball. The only obstacle? High school boys’ volleyball didn’t exist.

Historically, boys’ volleyball has been overlooked—particularly in the Midwest. One primary obstacle: it’s not a high school sport country-wide. 

That means fewer opportunities and restricted visibility. As a result, the development of the boys’ game has been slow.

But the game is growing and reaching new audiences.

In 2023, Minnesota became the 25th state to affirm boys’ volleyball as a sanctioned sport. And club volleyball programs like Minnesota Select Volleyball Club were essential to making it happen.

"The boys’ are just so excited to be on the court. They’re excited to be here because they haven’t had that opportunity to play since they were eight years old.” Kim Benka, Minnesota Select Volleyball Club Boys' Program Director

MN Select an Advocate for Boys’ Volleyball

Minnesota Select Volleyball Club founder and director Scott Jackson has been bullish about establishing boys’ volleyball in the state. With Jackson as a driving force, MN Select and other clubs lobbied the Minnesota High School Sports Association to make boys’ volleyball a sanctioned high school sport. The 2023 vote passed with ample support after falling one vote short the year prior. 

While boys’ volleyball is new to Minnesota high schools, the MN Select boys’ program is in its eighth year and thriving.

“When I saw there was momentum and passion, we jumped on it early,” Jackson said. “It’s been awesome to see the last handful of years, and especially this past year with it getting sanctioned.”

Jackson attributes the program’s growth to his staff and their commitment to establishing the same kind of passion and infrastructure for the boys' program that is present on the girls' side.

Take Kim Benka as an example.

Benka joined the MN Select staff when Jackson opened the club in 2003 as a girls’ coach. Since then, she’s been involved with the club on and off in various roles. 

In 2020, Benka was named the MN Select Boys’ Program Director, joining the administrative team full-time. Her promotion has been pivotal to their success.

“[Our community] came forward and said, ‘Hey, we need a boys’ team.’ And it started with one boys’ team here at Select about 7 or 8 years ago. We said ‘We’ll find a court space and make it happen,’” Benka said.

“Then, each year it’s grown and doubled. We went from 8 teams to 20 teams. We want to offer these boys what they want. And you just see it in them. When I went from coaching girls to coaching boys, there’s just a difference because the boys’ are just so excited to be on the court. They’re excited to be here because they haven’t had that opportunity to play since they were eight years old.”

For her work, Benka was named the 2023 AVCA Boys’ Club Director of the Year. Benka and MN Select’s mission is clear: Getting boys on the court is the first step toward giving them a chance to succeed.

Technology, and more specifically Hudl, is fundamental to the club’s mission to support and develop players to achieve their goals.

Hudl as a Tool for Equity, Education and Opportunity

For boys coaches Jamison Gray (17-1) and Zach Bush (16-1) having video and data helps their teams improve faster. Hudl accelerates learning, which helps to make up for the lack of fundamentals or training they may have learned at younger levels.

“Because boys’ is growing so quickly and they want to play, I feel like we’ve really been able to help them get on the court and play,” Benka said. “Then it was like, let’s give boys Hudl and [decide] what teams get Hudl so they can really grow their game.”

This investment in the boys' program is an investment in equality and equity across girls' and boys' programming.

As a supplemental resource to in-person training, Hudl gives coaches more tools to provide insight and teaching while affording athletes more agency to grow and develop their skills.

Bush emphasizes that Hudl meets the hunger he’s witnessed within his 16-1 boys’ teams. He believes his athletes’ dedication and investment to using Hudl is paying dividends not just today, but long term—including their recruitment.

Today, MN Select has 20 boys’ teams ages 14U–18U. This past year, the boys' teams earned three first-place finishes in national competitions as well as second place in the Boys Winter Championships and third place at AAU Nationals. The club also boasts 27 boys’ alumni playing college volleyball.

Creating Space for Everyone

A core value of MN Select is acceptance and inclusion. Their mission to share the game of volleyball with everyone means any person who wants to play gets a chance.

It helps that volleyball is an easy-entry sport. Communities have rec centers with courts and nets. Only at the higher levels do fees and space become an obstacle.

According to the Minnesota Boys’ High School Volleyball participation demographic report, 56.6% of boys participating in high school volleyball are non-white or a person of color. The most prevalent demographic of athletes in boys’ volleyball identifies as Asian (40.78%).

And on a national level, boys’ volleyball participation has increased by 22%, making it the fastest-growing sport for boys in the country.

But it’s not just the club and youth ranks. Since 2016, 119 men’s collegiate volleyball programs have been implemented at the NCAA, NAIA and Jr. College levels.

Not only is participation at the club level booming but there are more opportunities (and scholarships) waiting for boys’ volleyball participants at the next level.

The Future of Boys Volleyball at MN Select

Jackson, Benka, Gray and Bush are just a handful of the MN Select staff fully invested in fortifying and growing the boys' programming.

Their passion has evolved into a conviction: giving boys a chance to find fulfillment within as they carve out a new space in the volleyball community.

“Inserting myself into an opportunity that I never had, it’s really cool to give back,” Bush said. “I grew up in an area that didn’t have volleyball so being able to grow the sport has been really special to me in the state.”

For boys athletes at MN Select and in greater Minnesota, the future of volleyball has never been brighter.

“Our numbers keep growing and the state numbers keep growing,” Benka said. “And now that’s going to be a varsity sport, it’s going to grow even more. It’s really exciting to see how much they want it.”

Hudl makes it easy and affordable to equip every athlete with the tools to grow and develop — for girls and boys. Find the package that’s right for your club today.

Hudl Club-wide Packages