Local advocates have been pushing for the sanctioning of boys' volleyball in Colorado for more than 20 years.
And Wednesday, the club sport took one step closer to becoming an official Colorado High School Activities Association sanctioned sport.
Along with girls' wrestling and unified bowling, boys' volleyball was approved as a pilot program by CHSAA board of directors Wednesday, according to a release on CHSAAnow.com.
A new bylaw, which was passed in January by the board of directors, outlined the steps required for a new sport or activity to become a sanctioned sport.
The pilot program was designed after last year's surprising Legislative Council vote that shot down the sanctioning of boys' volleyball for the third time. Mike Prusinowski, president of the Colorado Boys High School Volleyball Association, told The Gazette in January that he hoped the pilot program will help drive boys' volleyball in the right direction - and so far, so good.
The 2018 spring season, which officially kicks off on the first day of practice Feb. 26, will be boys' volleyball's first pilot season. Girls' wrestling will begin as a pilot next winter. According to the CHSAA release, unified bowling will present its timeline for its pilot season in April.
Boys' volleyball and girls' wrestling are required to have two pilot seasons each. According to the release, if the sports are approved by the legislative council after the 2019 seasons, boys' volleyball will begin its first season as a CHSAA sanctioned sport in spring 2020 and girls' wrestling would begin in winter 2020-21.
The Pikes Peak region has deep ties to all three sports searching for sanctioning. According to Prusinowski, 13 area schools have confirmed that they will have a boys’ volleyball team this year, and more could be on the way. Doherty High School has one of the area's longest-running programs, which has been playing since 1996.
Vista Ridge sophomore Bella Mitchell recently placed second at the 2018 girls' state wrestling tournament at 161 pounds, while four other female wrestlers in the region placed in the top three. Falcon's Shenin Steele placed third in the 100-pound weight class; Doherty's Aminah Hunter placed third at 127; Fountain-Fort Carson's Joslyn Anderson finished third at 136 and Palmer's Kalila Mostert took bronze at 215.
At least eight Colorado Springs area high schools compete as members of the Colorado High School Bowling Foundation, including Doherty, which won the 2017-2018 team title two weeks ago. The Falcon High School team placed second, followed by the team from Mitchell. According to the CHSBF website, about 300 high school bowlers compete in the league across the state.