For Layne Louallen and Logan Beach, volleyball passion goes back a long way.
“We would’ve done anything to get out here and play,” Louallen said. “I started back in Ozark, 2009 was my freshman year and [the girls volleyball team] won state. I got really into back then and I’ve been trying to play and coach ever since.”
“I got play a little bit at intramural tournaments, co-ed tournaments in school,” Beach said. “[There were] not a lot of options.”
For the most part, those options still don’t exist.
That’s why Louallen and Beach put together 417 Boys Volleyball, the only team of its kind in the Ozarks.
“Every time we leave practice, one of us will get a text about how much fun [the boys] had or whatever it may be. It means a lot,” Louallen said.
It means the most to the boys who play.
“It’s just amazing what the coaches have done for us kids and given us the opportunity to play,” said Thayer senior Zerek Langley.
Langley drives from Thayer to Nixa to take advantage of that opportunity in the hopes of playing college volleyball.
“I was team captain this year for our team and I feel like I kind of helped coach a little,” Zerek said.
Right now the program fields one competitive team. That means a lot of practice time is spent just teaching the basics of the game.
“We have to relate to kids,” Beach said. “The way you throw a football is very similar to the way you like, your form is the same as when you hit a volleyball. So we had to find kids where they are and bring them to where we are.”
“We’ve definitely grown.,” Zerek said. “We started with nine guys and now it’s just growing every day.”
Its progress Louallen and Beach hope to build upon, with the long term goal of eventually seeing boys teams added to local high schools.
“We’ve been in contact with basically every area high school coach and they’re like ‘let us know what you want us to do, and we’ll do anything to help’ so I’m hoping we get there,” Louallen said.
Until then, these coaches have the Ozarks exclusive spot for one of the nation’s fastest growing sports.
417 Boys Volleyball plays mostly club teams in the Kansas City area.
They won their regional championship in their first competitive season earlier this year.