There could be some excitement connected with a new sport on Beaumont High’s growing athletically motivated campus sports program. Does boys’ volleyball excite anyone?
Beaumont’s second-year coach Mark Mina, who’s been around plenty teaching the sport at different campuses – that’s both boys and girls – is calling the Cougars’ second year their “sophomore season.”
Until San Jacinto spiked Beaumont in three straight last week, the Cougars had racked up six wins – twice that of last year’s “freshman season.”
Mina’s doing everything to make things click.
For openers, he’s calling this team “chock full of energetic newcomers to volleyball.”
On the flip side, he’s says he’s tough on the boys.
“I expect a lot of discipline, but it’s mostly been a lot of teaching.”
Compared to girls’ volleyball, where Beaumont has risen to the top, the young women’s squads are usually full of club-based players. In today’s world of prep sports, that’s where success begins.
When Mina talks up Aaron Torres, it’s with good reason. Torres has been playing club since his freshman season, “before we even had a program at Beaumont.”
Normally a Libero on his club, Fonza 1, based in Temecula, Torres is operating as the Cougars’ setter.
“He’s probably one of the best Liberos in the valley,” said Mina, “having played in national tournaments … and has had some early looks from colleges.”
That’s a clue. Early looks. Colleges.
That’s what it’ll take to keep boys’ volleyball surging – a true, patient coach, plus dedicated athletes. And college opportunities. Anyone looking for a sport?
Back in 2013, Mina coached Lake Arrowhead Rim of the World’s girls – this area’s most long-lasting prominent program – while showing up at Claremont (girls), Pasadena Mayfair and La Salle, serving as the director of Los Angeles Volleyball Academy, which is run out of Cal Poly Pomona.
Success won’t happen overnight. Losing to San Jacinto was no real disgrace, especially since the Tigers were 10-3 overall. Third-ranked Hemet West Valley carved up Beaumont in its next match.
It might be hard to get excited about a sport on a campus that has been struck by huge successes in swimming and track, boys and girls basketball and soccer, plus domination in cross country – among other sports.
“We had a great turnout of players,” said Mina.
A few returned from last year’s 3-13 squad, “but we are basically a brand new team.”
Returners like Tariq Walker and Jalen January, plus Colin Phillips Johnston, moving to Libero, and Levi Norte, coming off the injury list, head the cast of experienced players.
January, a first-team all-league basketball player, has acquired the nickname, “Juice.”
All other players are new to volleyball and new to Varsity.
Thirteen are holding down Varsity spots while another 17 players make up a combined Frosh-JV squad.
Girls understand the game better, not to mention the language, “which,” said Mina, “can sometimes slow down the process.”
Beaumont’s played some tough opponents, racking up wins over teams from Hemet, Murrieta and Temecula, where this sport’s considered a growing force. Don’t forget Fonza 1, likely started by some volleyball-loving folks in the Temecula Valley.
Don’t get Mina to talk much about contending for a league title – yet. “West Valley and San Jacinto both have experienced squads hungry for a title.”
Coaches love hungry athletes.
At practice, it’s drill after drill, a constant battle to learn and grow, cultivating that hunger.
Through all that learning and growth – which is coaching code speak for it’s not quite peaking – Mina’s quick to say it. “I’m quite happy with what we’ve done so far.”
Here’s a highlight: A five-game loss to Temecula Chaparral in Beaumont’s season opener on March 2 was reversed in a four-game rematch triumph one week later. A five-game triumph over Temecula Valley was improved to a three-game sweep after a week of practice.
As for the losses to San Jacinto and West Valley, there are rematches on April 21 and April 28.
Stay tuned for more improvements.