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Wasp boys’ volleyball playing for second state title, recognition of sport

Head Coach Duke Mossman holds the state championship trophy with his team standing behind him at the Layton Christian Academy gym Saturday after the title game.
Duke Mossman
Head Coach Duke Mossman holds the championship trophy with his team standing behind him at the Layton Christian Academy gym in October after winning the Utah School Sports Association fall state title.

Wasatch High School boys’ volleyball kicks off its season tonight with home openers. The team’s goals are to win a second state championship and get the state to sponsor the sport they play.

Boys’ volleyball at Wasatch High School is more popular than ever by a long shot. This year, 55 players tried out, and 49 of those now make up four club teams at the high school, up from just one team three years ago. They compete in the Utah Boys Volleyball Association with 130 other teams from 75 high schools across the state.

“We’re looking good,” Head Coach Duke Mossman said ahead of Tuesday’s home openers after winning the Utah School Sports Association state championship last fall. “We’re pretty heavy on seniors, so we’ve got a pretty experienced team, and we’re hoping for good things. Our goal is to win a second state championship in the same year.”

Matches are every Tuesday, but it’s rare that the Wasps get to play host. That’s because most of the teams in the club league are in Salt Lake County, Utah County and others.

Issues like almost always having to play away games are part of why Mossman and his players want the Utah High School Activities Association to officially sanction boys’ volleyball. Last month, the Wasatch School District Board of Education also passed a resolution to encourage the association to do so. So far, it’s the only school board in the state to send that type of official message of support.

According to Mossman, not all school administrations agree on sanctioning, especially principals of 5A and 6A schools who don’t want to add a new sport to an already busy time of year.

“Our biggest issue is that boys are basically being discriminated against, from playing volleyball,” he said. “Volleyball’s not a girls-only sport; it’s a sport for both genders, and they deserve the opportunity to play and represent their schools, and have the same, equal opportunity to play volleyball that girls do.”

That decision of whether to sponsor the sport for boys starting in 2023 comes down to a vote by the UHSAA Board of Trustees on Thursday, March 24. Last year, the board voted 10-5 against sanctioning.

The board consists of 15 school board members, superintendents, principals and other representatives from schools of different sizes and regions. Wasatch School District Superintendent Paul Sweat is one of those members.

Over 8,000 people have signed a petition in support of sanctioning boys’ volleyball in Utah.

“Volleyball is a huge draw, and so we’re just saying, ‘Let these kids play, and let them represent their schools.,’” Mossman said. “We were lucky to play in that fall league, and that was the first time that we got to actually play in the Nest in front of our home crowd, and it was life changing for some of those boys, just to be able to play in front of their friends and families and show them what they can do.”

For some of his players, he said those home appearances changed the perception of the sport at the school. Some of his players who have been picked on for playing a sport viewed as being for girls said that happened much less often after playing matches at home.

Colorado was the most recent to adopt boys’ volleyball as an official high school sport ahead of the season last year.

On Tuesday at Wasatch High School, the varsity team plays Mountain View at 6 p.m. and Pleasant Grove at 7 p.m. JV has matches at the same times, first against American Fork, then Lone Peak.

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