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In May, the Minnesota State High School League voted overwhelmingly to approve boys volleyball as a sanctioned sport beginning in 2024, after the proposal was rejected in 2022 by a single vote.

One of the sticking points was the timing of the season: Fall or spring?

Decision time has come. The MSHSL will make a recommendation at its Board of Directors meeting Thursday.

When the Star Tribune sought the opinions of coaches in the summer, support for a spring season was overwhelming. But a contingent of high school coaches has formed since and requested that the MSHSL task force recommend a fall season.

Wayzata track and field coach Aaron Berndt, representing an organized group of coaches of spring sports, sent a letter to members of the MSHSL task force spelling out the group's rationale.

He wrote that the group takes issue with the "false assumption that an abundance of indoor space exists during the spring season," saying that the frequency of inclement weather in Minnesota in the spring often forces teams to hold indoor practices as late as the first week of May. Those practices often continue well into the evening to avoid conflicts with other sports that have similar needs.

The group also notes smaller participation numbers in fall sports, citing MSHSL statistics showing that 77,122 student-athletes participated in fall sports in 2022 while 83,437 participated in spring sports.

The group added that with just 12 athletic offerings in the fall and 26 in the spring, a spring season would put a greater strain on transportation, which has been a growing burden on athletic departments.

The coaches wrapped up their pro-fall argument by pointing out that Wisconsin successfully holds its boys and girls high school volleyball seasons concurrently.

Having boys volleyball in the fall is favored by many athletic directors because it allows schools to approach volleyball in the same manner as basketball. Girls and boys teams can share facilities and buses and play doubleheaders. It could serve to alleviate the ongoing officiating shortage by having officials work back-to-back games, and it would avert a potential space crunch in early spring, when weather causes spring sports teams to practice indoors.

The boys volleyball club season, whose popularity boosted the effort to get MSHSL sanctioning, has been in the spring. Supporters say gyms go largely unused once spring teams move outside and add that many volleyball coaches would coach both girls and boys teams if possible.

In a summer email, the Star Tribune asked metro volleyball coaches their thoughts and found that most respondents preferred a spring season. Here are a few of their replies:

"Boys should be in the spring, hands down. The fact that this is even a concern to the ADs makes us question what the priority really is. All of the compiled statistics and data prove this should be in the spring. If this is in the fall, this will not only hurt the boys but also the girls programs."

"Spring — it should stay consistent with men's collegiate volleyball."

"I would prefer spring so nothing conflicts with girls volleyball."

"SPRING!!!!!!!!!!!! Not only would the shortage of officials be a major obstacle, there are MANY coaches of girls programs coaching their school's boys program. It is a no-brainer to have the boys play in the spring."

"I believe boys volleyball should be in the spring. This gives officiating crews the ability to help in the fall and spring. I also believe it should be like NCAA men's volleyball and follow the same spring calendar."

"SPRING — Girls are struggling to reschedule with the officials shortage as is."

"Spring, no question. ADs don't want it in the spring because it will be 'inconvenient.' Putting boys volleyball in the fall will kill the sport before it even gets started because there won't be enough coaches or officials."