New sport alert – Boys Volleyball brought to Eagan


Carson Powell, Co-Editor in Chief

2019 will go down in history as the year Eagan High School added boys volleyball to its long list of extracurriculars. In the midst of their first-ever season, the boys are working hard to prepare for the rest of this year. They have had an incredibly successful start to their season, and are looking forward to the future of the team.

It all started with Kelly Schlagel. Schlagel is a second-grade teacher at Highland Elementary School and has helped out with the Eagan girls volleyball program. After witnessing the success from the girls program over the years, she hoped to start a boys one at Eagan. This year, there was enough support on behalf of coaches and players to do just that.

I wanted to start a program after seeing the excitement for boys volleyball building around the state last year,” Schlagel said. “I wanted to bring that opportunity to boys at Eagan.”

In the past, intramural volleyball was an opportunity for boys with an interest in the sport to play, but there has never been a team to play against other schools. There was overwhelming excitement for the possibility of the team that the coaches had no trouble filling a varsity and junior varsity roster. The varsity team is led by captains Ryan Meekin and Jack Hillesheim.

Coaching alongside Schlagel is Kathy Gillen, head coach for the EHS girls varsity volleyball team. Gillen helps out both the varsity and JV teams. “The boys are getting better every week,” she said. “A lot of things we do in practice are translating into games, which is great.”

At Eagan, boys volleyball is a club sport, and is therefore not MSHSL sanctioned. It follows the same guidelines and rules as girls volleyball except the nets are higher. Last year was the first year of the league, so most of the 50 teams participating are in the same boat as Eagan when it comes to learning the rules.

“Our challenge is that it’s a new sport,” JV coach Steve Elliott said. “They have come a long way, and they have a long way to go.”

Schlagel agrees. “It has been an exciting challenge to coach players with no prior experience in the game,” she said.

The boys have been practicing whenever they can, depending on gym availability. Practices two to three times a week are common; sometimes even at 6:30 a.m.

Elliott has seen improvement from the boys because of their dedication. “They’re excited, enthusiastic, and athletic,” Elliott said. “It’s been fun to see how much they’ve grown and see what the potential is.”

The team’s overall progress has impressed all the coaches, and made the games exciting to watch. “I just see improvement in our team every time we’re on the court, so that’s what I’m looking forward to,” Elliot said. Gillen agreed, saying she is excited to see them grow and get better. “Every week they pick up another part of the game, and it’s really fun to watch,” she said.

The team usually has one or two games a week. Their next game is Monday, May 6, at Shakopee High School. On May 8 and 13, there will be home matches for both teams where all fans will get in for free.

The boys have had a great first few games, but the season is just getting started, and there is so much to look forward to, about the rest of this year and the future of the program. “We are looking forward to carrying this momentum into next year,” Schlagel said.