FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – When it comes to men’s volleyball, Fort Wayne isn’t a stranger to success on the court. At the college level, Purdue Fort Wayne has long had a winning culture in the sport.

Even with the Mastodons winning tradition, boys volleyball hasn’t gained any traction on the prep level. However, a new initiative from the IHSAA hopes to buck that trend.

Two years ago, the IHSAA voted to designate boys volleyball and girls wrestling as “Emerging” sports. Emerging sports help “pave a way for those sports and participation to continue to grow with an eye toward eventually becoming a recognized sport and sponsorship of an official state tournament,” according an IHSAA release.

This season, boys volleyball is taking off as a several northeast Indiana schools are in their inaugural season. Coaches are also noticing high interest and turnout from young men.

“We had people asking to start a team before the IHSAA said it was an emerging sport,” said Homestead head coach Jacob Allread. “Just to see how many guys are interested in the sport in itself is so encouraging.”

As part of the process, half of the 407 IHSAA schools – just over 200 – must adopt an emerging sport to gain state sponsorship. According to the Indiana Boys Volleyball Coaches Association website, 88 schools have already launched a team. Among those schools, a dozen hail from northeast Indiana.

CarrollHuntington North
Columbia CityNew Haven
DeKalbNorth Side
East NobleNorthrop
HomesteadSouth Side
Northeast Indiana teams with a boys volleyball program (credit: IBVCA)

Not only is boys volleyball gaining traction across the Hoosier state, but it provides another spring sport option for young men who aren’t interested in baseball, track and field or golf.

“We always want kids to play multiple sports and especially us smaller schools, to be able to do that,” said Heritage head coach Abby Tigulis. “It’s good for the kids, it’s good for the IHSAA, and it’s good for schools in general.”

Down the stretch, coaches and players also hope northeast Indiana can serve as a powerhouse for the sport in the Hoosier state.

“For us, we’re excited we got in early,” said Tigulis. “Our freshman and sophomores are playing now. By the time they’re seniors, we think we’re going to have something special here.”