Briggs Boeser is a fifth-grade boy at Cottage Grove Elementary School that loves the sport of volleyball. Ever since he started watching his sister play and watching the Olympics every four years, he said he’s always had an interest in the sport.
Unfortunately, the sport of boys’ volleyball is minimal around the area of Cottage Grove. Boeser is here to change that mentality for future boys’ volleyball players and continue growing the sport he loves for many years into the future.
Boeser watched his sister play volleyball for a year before asking his parents about the idea of him playing volleyball. The 10-year-old was born and raised in the Cottage Grove area and so they looked for a program around the city, but nothing was open for boys’ volleyball.
They decided to extend their search and found a community recreation program in Maplewood. The program focused on the fundamentals of hitting, digging and passing, and it served as a fun way to learn new skills. But it didn't include any matches in a league-play environment.
It was a co-ed program in Maplewood, so Boeser’s parents thought there might be some other boys at the practice. Boeser was the only boy there.
After doing the program, Boeser’s parents wanted to see if there was any possibility of joining a league closer to their Cottage Grove home.
“I reached out to them to see if my son could play for Cottage Grove’s rec program,” said Michelle Boeser, Briggs’ mother. “At first, they didn’t say no but they didn’t say yes … they said let us look into it.”
It took a little bit of time for them to look into it and Michelle Boeser sent another email letting them know about a new boys’ volleyball club team that opened up at Math and Science Academy in Woodbury. She thought that if there’s a club team in the area, it would be good to have a program built so it could become a feeding program for the high school level.
The association agreed that Briggs Boeser could play in the rec league in the fall, which is a league that only District 833 kids play in and it’s all locally based. He had so much fun playing in that league and being a part of a team, Michelle Boeser knew he would want to play in the rec plus league in the winter.
The rec plus league is tournament based and it expands outside of the District 833 area. It took some time for the association to deem Briggs Boeser eligible for the rec plus league, but he was going to compete on a team in the winter.
Being able to be in those two leagues made Briggs Boeser realize how much he enjoyed every aspect in the game of volleyball and wanted to continue building his skills for the future. His eyes were and still are locked on making the boys’ volleyball club team in the future.
“He practices really hard and wants to get better each time he plays,” said Todd Boeser, Briggs’ father. “He never wants to leave practice because he wants to keep playing as much as he can.”
Briggs Boeser will be able to play in the rec and rec plus leagues this upcoming fall and winter, but there’s a roadblock once he’s done with fifth grade this school year. Once he reaches sixth grade, there’s a new league called the Junior Olympics and it’s a higher level of play for girls’ volleyball.
The Boeser family has already been informed that Briggs Boeser will not be eligible to play in that league. Michelle Boeser said the reason behind that ineligibility, from what she’s been told, is that once he goes on a team it’s an unfair advantage because he’s a boy.
The Boeser family wasn’t happy about the decision given to them, but they want to see the athletic associations open up leagues for boys’ volleyball especially since there’s two boys’ volleyball club teams in the district area.
There’s one team at Math and Science Academy and there’s a brand new team that opened up at East Ridge High School. East Ridge had its first season last spring as a club team.
Briggs Boeser will apply for admission to Math and Science Academy this upcoming fall and winter and if he’s accepted he’s planning on playing with the Dragons boys’ volleyball team. The family won’t find out about his acceptance until this upcoming summer before his sixth-grade school year.
“I really like Math and Science and when I heard that they were doing volleyball that made me want to go even more,” Briggs Boeser said. “I also have some friends that want to go there too.”
Math and Science Academy serves from sixth grade to 12th grade, so Briggs Boeser would be able to attend school there next school year. If he’s not accepted, his sights are on the East Ridge boys’ volleyball club as they accept seventh and eighth graders on the team too. His family lives in the East Ridge district.
The sport of boys’ volleyball has grown throughout the past couple of years and there are more and more teams developing programs in the high school scene. The idea of sanctioning boys’ volleyball as a Minnesota State High School League sport has been brought up over the past couple of years.
It hasn’t been passed to become a sanctioned sport, but with the development of more teams and more players it’s just a matter of time before it’s adopted as a varsity sport. It started with 22 teams making a club team and competing throughout the state and that number nearly doubled over the past couple of seasons.
The club sport plays in the spring time and has its own conferences and state tournament at the end of the regular season. East Ridge and Math and Science both played in this league.
Briggs Boeser is a hitter and enjoys being on the front line to jump over the net and earn the kill against the opponent. He loves the overall atmosphere of volleyball whether it’s practice, a match or just watching it live or on the television.
“I watch a lot of YouTube videos on boys’ volleyball,” Briggs Boeser said. “I also will probably watch the Olympics when it comes on.”
The idea of being the only boy on the court hasn’t been weird for him because he’s become friends with many of the girls on his team. He hopes more boys will join the sport in the future because he wants to see the boys’ volleyball sport continue to rise each year.
Ultimately, Briggs Boeser wants to play volleyball in college for a men’s team, but he’ll continue to work hard each year to get a step closer to that ultimate goal.