The local EV3 18-and-under boys volleyball team: (back row, from left) Luke Pier, Connor Cole, Asst Coach Hannah Fritz, Taylor Hatch and Niisu Wilkinson. In front: Joaquin Corrales, Ben Smith, head coach Christa Faris, assistant coach Craig Collins, Dominic Nelson and Andrew Smith. (Gary Herron/Observer)
They can’t get better instruction than this: Their EV3 coach is a former Canadian national team volleyball player.
And this 18-and-under boys’ West Side volleyball team is heading out of state on a monthly basis, playing in qualifiers and facing top-notch competition as they do so.
“(We put it on the) West Side; all those families out there,” said EV3 coach and gym owner Christa Faris. She said there are 20 teams in various age groups under her auspices. “Like, what did I do?”
In New Mexico, girls volleyball is sanctioned by the New Mexico Activities Association. Faris would like to change that, recalling some prep boys teams that competed in volleyball here in the early 1990s, before her arrival in 1994.
Later, Faris was head volleyball coach at Cibola High School, “for five seasons. We lost in the finals to Rio Rancho in 2005. That was my last season.
“In Canada, boys’ volleyball is second to hockey,” Faris said. “Finding out there wasn’t indoor boys volleyball here was surprising.”
She wanted to do something about it, and the result is EV3, with her oldest team made up of student-athletes from Bosque School; East Mountain, Volcano Vista, Cibola and Eldorado high schools; The ASK Academy and even homeschoolers.
Faris has offered training to boys for a few years, and in June, she and her coaches formed and trained this boys U18 team — the first team from New Mexico to compete at the national AAU tourney. It has placed as high as fifth in tournaments it’s traveled to, mainly in neighboring states.
With four maple hardwood courts and three sand courts in her facility – once half of the grocery store in Country Club Plaza – Faris hopes to attract more boys to the sport. In fact, prospective players and their parents are welcomed to the center, next to Elevate, the trampoline site, on Wednesdays from 4:30-6:30 p.m.
“Come out and give it a try,” she said. There’s no cost involved, and “We’re needing more (U16) boys to come and show interest.”
Boys volleyball is the fastest-growing high school sport in the country, and in light of the growing interest – if Faris’s 30,000-square-foot facility is any indication — could it become an NMAA-sanctioned sport or activity? Twenty-eight other states have the sport, per the MaxPreps site.
“We have received interest from some schools regarding boys’ volleyball,” said Dusty Young, NMAA assistant director. “At the request of one of our schools, it will be a discussion item at our November commission meeting.”
Rio Rancho Public Schools Executive Director of Athletics Bruce Carver said he has questions about adding boys volleyball.
“I am always an advocate for students participating in athletics and all extracurricular activities,” Carver said “It helps with attendance, grades, and teaches students skills that will benefit them during their adult life. … I think there will be a lot more research that has to be done by the NMAA and athletic directors before any sport is added.”
For more information, email Faris at e[email protected] or visit e3vb.com.