Net gain for Williston

New volleyball courts attract league, aim for youths

Aug. 11, 2011

By Adam White

Observer staff

Two existing volleyball courts were revamped and two others were recently added at Williston’s Community Park. The courts have already attracted a 16-team adult league. (Observer photo by Adam White)

When it comes to volleyball in Williston, court is now in session — and Jeff Boliba hopes it will lead to a spike in interest among younger players.

Boliba, a Williston resident and member of Green Mountain Volleyball’s Board of Directors, helped initiate and complete a project to revamp a pair of existing volleyball courts at the town’s Community Park, and add two additional courts in hopes of attracting a 16-team adult league that had been playing its games in Colchester. The new courts opened on Aug. 4, allowing the league to host a tournament and begin what Boliba hopes will be a long relationship with its new host town.

“The courts really came out great,” Boliba said. “It was a cooperative effort between a lot of people — from our league and from the town — but now we have what are probably the nicest outdoor courts in the state.”

The project was born through a 10-minute PowerPoint presentation that Boliba made to the Williston Parks and Recreation Committee roughly 18 months ago. He told the committee that the Colchester league was forced to split its events between two separate courts, and would be willing to put its money and manpower behind the construction of a single facility in Williston.

“It was a good proposal,” Williston Parks and Rec. Director Kevin Finnegan said. “(Boliba) presented us with the numbers that the league would expect to draw, and it sounded like a good deal for the town — a modest investment that would be repaid quickly.”

The subsequent agreement to move forward with the project hinged on league members accomplishing a significant amount of the labor required to revamp the two existing courts and add two new ones. Boliba got help from fellow league members and Williston residents Paul Morgan and Prinett Amin, among others, and a major boost from the efforts of Stowe player Steve Lauvenberg.

“Once the labor crew from the town brought in the 40-plus truckloads of sand, we got to work putting in the poles and net systems,” Boliba said. “Within the past two months, I’ve probably put in close to 100 man-hours working on it, but we’ve had a lot of help. It’s been great to have so many volunteers; there is no way we could have done this without them.”

The courts were officially finished just in time for the opening tournament. The final product features Pro Beach-style nets and lines, a significant improvement over the previous versions.

Finnegan said that the courts saw limited action in the past, but will hopefully draw interest from a few groups of players slowly developing a volleyball scene in Williston.

“In the 11 years since I’ve been here, they traditionally haven’t gotten a lot of use,” Finnegan said. “There is a group of high school kids from CVU (Champlain Valley Union High School) that plays on Tuesdays, and some teachers from Williston Central who play on Wednesdays. This new league will be there on Thursdays from spring through fall, so hopefully that will draw some more people.”

Boliba said that the very nature of volleyball lends itself to pickup games, as kids can “just roll up with a ball and start playing, like a basketball court.” He has determined through his involvement with Green Mountain Volleyball that youth involvement is critical to the sport’s growth in the state, and hopes that the new courts provide some support for that trend.

“I believe Vermont is the only state in the U.S. that doesn’t have sanctioned high-school volleyball,” Boliba said. “Part of Green Mountain Volleyball’s goal is to get more youths exposed to the sport, and give them a chance to play.”