Manual students ready for volleyball and football to break the gender barrier

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Ava Blair

The seniors vs juniors powderpuff game has become a big tradition at Manual over the years; many students feel that it should be its own sport. Photo by Ava Blair

By Ava Blair, duPont Manual High School

In high school, students are able to play the sports they love while getting involved in their school community and feeling that school spirit. However, some students feel the sport they love isn’t offered to the extent it should be. 

Luke Boggs (9, J&C) recently moved to Louisville from Oregon. He has been playing school and club volleyball since 5th grade and was disappointed when he found out Manual did not have a boys’ volleyball team.

“All of the other catholic schools have boys’ volleyball and I think we should do boys’ volleyball,” Boggs said.

Scarlett Frisbie (10, J&C) also had a very similar experience with powderpuff football. She began playing in middle school for Holy Trinity and it quickly became one of her favorite sports. However, she was disappointed when she came to Manual and it was not offered. 

The Catholic Schools Athletic Association of Louisville (CSAA) has created leagues for both boys’ volleyball and powderpuff football. The CSAA began organizing a boys’ volleyball league in 1989; however, teams date back to 1963. The powderpuff football league was just formed by the CSAA in 2021.

Both boys’ volleyball and powderpuff have grown largely popular in recent years, with Manual including the annual junior vs. senior powderpuff game as one of the school’s Red/White week activities. Other schools in the area host similar games, such as the Assumption vs. Sacred Heart game, also called the Pink vs. White game. Many students have been wondering why JCPS can’t have these sports if private schools can.

According to Athletic Director David Zuberer, since many private schools are single-sex, they have different requirements for Title IX funding and different sports options.

Zuberer also stated that Manual will start a team for a sport when the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) sanctions the sport. 

For a sport to be sanctioned, 42 teams must pledge interest, and then the KHSAA will begin the sanctioning process. 

According to the DuPont Manual Title IX report from 2021-2022, 136 students stated that they would be interested in playing boys’ volleyball.

Gavin Fulton (10, HSU) played volleyball in a brief league for Louisville Fury, a boys’ volleyball club, and also believes Manual should offer the sport.

 “I think there’s a lot of interest. I mean I’ve asked around and a lot of people want to do it,” Fulton said.

Girls volleyball coach Richard Weaver also explained that he has had several people contact him about starting a boys’ volleyball team.

Boys volleyball is on the way to becoming a KHSAA sport as the Kentucky Volleyball Coaches Association reported that 14 teams are confirmed for the 2023 season. There are 60 teams interested in playing, Manual included.

Zuberer said that the pledged interest did not come from the athletic department. “We made the KHSAA aware that we would have an interest if the KHSAA sanctioned boys’ volleyball regardless of the year it starts,” Zuberer said.

However, powderpuff is different. Earlier this month, CBS News reported that only five states recognize girls’ football as an official sport: Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Nevada, and Alaska.

For senior Natalie Lowe (12, HSU), football has always been a passion of hers and something she wanted to play. Lowe was inspired by female football players and since she played soccer she figured she would try to kick for Manual. 

“They were very open to the idea of it,” Lowe said about her football coaches when she approached them with the idea of kicking. 

Lowe also played powderpuff junior and senior year and explained that she wished that JCPS offered a powderpuff league as other states do.

Nearly 100 girls participated in the Red/White week powderpuff game and 136 boys expressed interest in volleyball, so there is interest in these sports.

Although the KSHAA has not yet sanctioned girls’ and boys’ lacrosse, Manual offers these sports; however, according to the standards set by Manual, these sports should not be offered. If lacrosse is offered and is not sanctioned, many think sports like boy’s volleyball, which is on its way to being sanctioned, should be offered because boys in private schools and girls in both public and private schools have the opportunity to play.

“I think it’s fair to have like men and I guess women’s teams. All the Catholic schools around have boys teams, so there’s definitely teams to play,” Fulton said.

This story was originally published on Manual RedEye on November 29, 2022.