Billie Hwang (middle), the founder of Absolute Zero Volleyball Club, added a boys volleyball program four years ago. Photo courtesy of Billie Hwang

Billie Hwang (middle), the founder of Absolute Zero Volleyball Club, added a boys volleyball program four years ago. Photo courtesy of Billie Hwang

Rallying interest in boys volleyball

Absolute Zero Volleyball Club on Mercer Island hosts annual boys volleyball tournament in March.

Billie Hwang, the founder of Absolute Zero Volleyball Club on Mercer Island, has set out to grow the sport of boys volleyball in the Northwest.

Hwang, an experienced volleyball player and coach, founded Absolute Zero Volleyball Club on Mercer Island seven years ago, originally as a girls volleyball club. Beginning four years ago, Hwang started to offer boys club volleyball as well.

“At that point, we had 15 boys from varying ages — from 11 years old to freshmen (in high school),” Hwang said. “Now we’re one of the largest boys clubs in the region.”

In order to help grow the game in the region, Hwang teamed up with Trine University (of Indiana) head mens volleyball coach Brendan Ledwith, Roland Madany of the Evergreen Region Volleyball Association and volleyball coach Mike Griffin to create a Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho contingency to help grow the game.

“We wanted to grow boys volleyball in the Northwest,” Hwang said. “Prior to us starting this consortium, there were a couple of boys programs around these states, but nothing really strong. We didn’t have a large contingency.”

Together, they created the Western Boys Powerleague which offers high quality boys volleyball tournaments with a relaxed atmosphere.

“Volleyball in our area is kind of perceived as a (girls) sport,” Hwang said. “We thought it was important that we establish a tournament series specifically for boys.”

Hwang said the number of teams participating has grown from 12 boys teams in year one of the league, to 36 teams that participated in the annual Mercer Island boys volleyball tournament last year.

Since 2015, Absolute Zero Volleyball Club has hosted an annual boys volleyball tournament on the Island every March. This year, the tournament will be held at Mercer Island High School, the Mercer Island Country Club and the Mercer Island Community and Events Center on March 14-15. For Hwang, it was important for the tournament to highlight Mercer Island.

Hwang said they hope to expand the tournament and boys volleyball while also bringing in more of a community feel.

“We’ve been on Mercer Island the entire seven years that my club has been in existence,” Hwang said. “For me it was really important to keep the big tournament on the Island and to bring in a lot of business in addition to that.”

Along with the tournament, the club also offers a yearly college recruiting camp to help local boys volleyball players get recruited to play at the college level. The most recent camp had 21 participants.

“In the last five years, men’s college volleyball around the country has sky-rocketed,” Hwang said. “So there are so many opportunities for high schoolers to play at the collegiate level.”

“A lot of things have changed and I think, especially in our area, the boys don’t really know about the opportunity that you can play collegiately,” Hwang said. “If you look online, there are tons of new programs that are popping up all over.”

In order to continue to grow the game, Hwang said it’s important to bring in younger kids to teach them what volleyball is all about. To reach a younger audience, they started a boys only volleyball league in conjunction with the Bellevue Boys and Girls Club.

Hwang said that to be a great volleyball player involves a lot of small working pieces.

“(Volleyball) is the most difficult sport to learn. It’s a frustrating sport to learn. It’s incredibly dynamic and everything changes on the fly,” Hwang said. “But it’s also one of the most cerebral sports that you’ll ever be able to play. You’re constantly thinking about strategies of the other side, on the fly. A lot of it is a reaction, but also being thoughtful in how to play the game.”

Along with the tournament, the club is planning showcase high school matches in the spring. Hwang said it’s important to show the public that boys have the option to play volleyball and to provide the game more exposure.

For those interested in trying boys volleyball or learning more about Absolute Zero Volleyball Club, visit the club’s website at https://sites.google.com/site/absolutezerovbc/ or email volleyballogyclinics@outlook.com.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@mi-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.mi-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

[flipp]

More in Sports

The WIAA announced Wednesday that if schools reopen at the conclusion of the six-week statewide shutdown ordered last week by Gov. Jay Inslee, then the state championships will go on as planned. (WIAA photo)
WIAA still hoping to hold state championships in May

But if the school shutdown extends past April 24, those championships could be in jeopardy.

Athletic practices and competitions cancelled through April 24 due to coronavirus outbreak

By Andy Nystrom and Benjamin Olson Gov. Jay Inslee announced on March… Continue reading

Islanders possess young talent on soccer pitch

The Mercer Island boys soccer team awaits the new season.

Mercer Island wrestlers place at state folkstyle wrestling championships

Four Mercer Island elementary and middle school students placed at the state… Continue reading

Games are being postponed in response to coronavirus outbreak

In response to the recent coronavirus outbreak, Eastside schools are taking precautions… Continue reading

Mercer Island Football Club teams net championships

Boys and girls soccer teams from Mercer Island Football Club dominated at… Continue reading

Preparing for the first pitch

The Mercer Island baseball team is going into the new season with a deep pitching staff.

Hardwood Classic tips off after coronavirus outbreak

By Benjamin Olson and Andy Nystrom Basketball players took to the court… Continue reading

Most school events, including sports practices, on schedule after coronavirus outbreak

All the school districts in the Reporter’s coverage areas — Northshore, Lake… Continue reading

Reporter file photo
No changes to state basketball tournament schedules after coronavirus outbreak

State boys and girls basketball Hardwood Classic tournaments in Tacoma, Yakima and… Continue reading

Boys volleyball tournament coming to Mercer Island

Boys volleyball teams from Washington, Idaho, Oregon and British Columbia will compete… Continue reading

Islanders edge Bainbridge to win state swim meet

A complete team effort propelled the Mercer Island boys swim and dive team to 3A state title.